Preventing sexual assault on campus takes commitment – from university leadership, students, faculty and the community. Today, the University of Colorado Denver re-signed the Denver Sexual Assault Response Protocol as a symbol of the university’s support and participation in The Sexual Assault Interagency Council.
The Sexual Assault Interagency Council (SAIC) ensures a consistent, collaborative and culturally competent response from the criminal justice system, health and hospitals and victim service providers. SAIC is comprised of representatives from approximately 30 agencies in Denver who respond to sexual assault. The SAIC recently revised their 2005 city-wide, multidisciplinary, collaborative policy for responding to sexual assault, titled the Denver Sexual Assault Response Protocol. (It is periodically revised as legislation and model practices evolve.) On April 6, all of the partner agencies signed and agreed to adhere to the document. Signers (of the 2011 protocol and past versions) include the Mayor of Denver, Chief of Police, Denver DA, and other relevant agencies including the Colorado Attorney General.
According to the SAIC, it is vital that colleges maintain strong relationships with community agencies such as the police, the DA’s office and victim service agencies, especially with the increasing national focus on sexual violence on college campuses. Partnering with the SAIC integrates the college campus signers into a network of agencies committed to ensuring survivors of sexual violence receive the best service possible in the aftermath of a sexual assault.
“With one in four women likely to experience sexual assault while they are at college, it is critical that college campuses are able to respond effectively and respectfully to survivors of sexual violence,” said Lisa Ingarfield, associate director of interpersonal violence prevention at the tri-institutional Phoenix Center at Auraria, the Auraria campus victim services agency. “Effective response means that we not only do an excellent job of holding perpetrators accountable but that we also provide survivors with all the resources they need.”
During the program, The Phoenix Center at Auraria received an award for exemplary collaboration and advancement in sexual assault response.
The University of Colorado Denver is a signer on the 2005 protocol and has agreed to continue its support of the protocol (as have the other two Auraria institutions—Metropolitan State College of Denver and the Community College of Denver) by signing on April 6.
According to Ingarfield, part of the beauty of collaborating with the city and county of Denver ensures that students, faculty and staff at CU Denver who experience sexual assault whether on campus or in their community can have greater access to community resources for support and for criminal justice action.
“The Phoenix Center at Auraria is an active participant on the SAIC and is proud to see all the Auraria institutions sign onto such an important and cutting edge protocol for the community,” said Ingarfield. “It sends a strong message that the Auraria campus will not tolerate sexual violence and will do whatever it can to ensure that any student, staff, or faculty who experiences such violence will be able to pursue recourse through their school and/or the criminal justice system and be believed, treated with dignity, respect and care by all agencies she/he comes into contact with.”
It was fitting that the protocol was signed during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.