Last week, the Student Assistant Hotline, a 24-hour service run by the Women*s Center that offers help to students on issues of sexual misconduct, reopened.
The hotline was not open earlier this year due to problems with the hotline’s phone. According to Qui Alexander, Program Coordinator of the Women*s Center, there are some new changes to this year’s hotline.
“When we realized we had to wait and get a new phone, we said, ‘Well, why don’t we make this a little bigger?’ ” said Alexander. “Everyone needed to get re-trained anyways, so then we put our heads together and decided to get everybody retrained and expand the program.”
The hotline currently has 13 volunteers, who are either members of the Women*s Center staff or student volunteers. The increase in the number of volunteers this year has created a more efficient system, according to Alexander. Rather than working the hotline for a week at a time, volunteers now rotate the phone every 24 hours.
Staff and volunteers may help report incidents of sexual misconduct, provide students access to helpful resources, and give support.
According to Alexander, expanding the program also delayed the hotline’s opening. To become a volunteer for the hotline, students had to attend a three-hour training, submit an application, and complete an interview. Although this was a somewhat lengthy process, it was also an important one.
“It was just something that we wanted to really do well, and not just have the hotline running haphazardly,” said Alexander. “We wanted it to really be intentional.”
Recently, the hotline’s confidentiality level has also changed. The hotline is now “Level Two,” meaning that the hotline volunteers must report an incident to Alexander, but are not required to disclose personal information.
“Especially if you’re nervous about talking to administrators or not really sure where to turn, it’s a really great resource to hear another voice that’s affirming another student who’s been trained on it, but really just wants to do it to support the rest of their community and that’s something we’ve really been talking about,” said Alexander. “Everybody’s here because they want to help people. We want it to be a place of love, and not of fear.”