Campus Spotlight: Services For Rape Counseling

The recent arrest of Kirkland House resident Joshua M. Elster '00 for the alleged rape of a fellow student has focused attention on resources available on campus for rape prevention and rape counseling.

Nadja B. Gould, a clinical social worker at University Health Services (UHS), said rape victims should contact UHS as a first resource. She said social workers are on call 24 hours a day.

"We help make sure that [students] get medical help, legal help and advice about going through the Administrative Board, if that's what they want to do," Gould said.

Counseling is available through mental health services at UHS and, in addition, Gould said that UHS refers victims to other campus organizations, including Response. Response is a confidential peer counseling service in the basement of Lowell House entry F that operates Friday through Sunday, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. for phone calls, and 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. for drop-ins.

Response fields calls on issues related to rape, sexual assault, relationships, harassment, and battery. A co-director of Response spoke on condition of anonymity-all staffers must remain anonymous-and stressed that Response's first priority is listening.

"We make it a policy not to judge whether someone should or should not prosecute [a rape]. We know where to tell them to go, if they ask," she said.

Response responds to call from rape and harassment victims as well as friends of victims and those interested in knowing about legal issues surrounding rape. The Response co-director said that students should realize that rape does occur here on campus. The services offered, she said, are frequently utilized.

"Over a year, all of our calls average to a call a night," she said.

Another confidential peer counseling hotline and drop-in center available to students is Room 13, which fields concerning a variety of issues.

Co-director of Room 13 Cynthia E. Rogers '98 said the organization refers rape victims to Response and UHS, but it is also able to directly speak with rape victims. The Room 13 office is located in Grays Hall West basement and is open daily from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Women who want to learn about defending themselves from rape and other attacks can take classes from the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Rape Aggression Defense Systems (RAD). Sargent James L. McCarthy, coordinator of RAD, said the program teaches participants to avoid dangerous situations and to defend themselves if such situations arise.

"Most of what we teach is awareness--awareness of your surroundings, of the people around you," he said.

McCarthy said the physical component of RAD includes defensive techniques such as strategies that can be used by women in case of personal attack.

"It's not karate and it's not Tae Kwan Do. It's a defensive position--hit and run," McCarthy said.

RAD consists of four separate four-hour courses and can be reserved by groups of interested women by calling the RAD hot-line at 495-1795.