University Fills New Position for Sexual Assault Educator
Susan B. Marine, who has held similar posts at Colorado College and Dartmouth, comes to Harvard from the Cambridge Department of Public Health and said in an interview Saturday that she plans to focus on educating students about existing sexual assault resources in the city of Cambridge.
She arrives in the new position just a semester after the Faculty's controversial vote to require corroborating evidence before the College's Administrative Board investigates peer-to-peer disputes-including claims of sexual assault.
Members of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence (CASV), which led vocal protests against the new corroboration rule, welcomed Marine's appointment.
"With her in an official role, the University hopefully won't ignore problems [of sexual assault] any longer," said CASV member Alisha C. Johnson '04. "It's definitely a step in the right direction."
But Marine said she is unsure whether changing the corroboration rule and other University policies falls under her jurisdiction.
"I've never had a conversation with anyone about the corroboration rule before," she said. "I don't have a great sense of it as part of my job, and I really need to get to Harvard and see what my role will be before I do anything."
The College made a one-year commitment to the new position, in order to allow a quick appointment, as part of a series of changes in the way it handles sexual assault. One of Marine's duties will be working closely with a committee appointed this fall to examine Harvard's sexual assault support and prevention programs.
Marine, whose appointment was announced Friday, said direct involvement with students is what drew her to work on campus sexual assault issues.
"I love the college environment and working with students," she said. "I have a sense that much of my work will involve training students to be good sexual harassment educators."
Marine's responsibilities include coordinating student education on sexual assault and training the College's Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Advisors.
"Her job will be to put a lot of needed programming in place, which she'll be great at because she has worked on college campuses before," said Assistant Dean of the College Karen E. Avery '87. "She understands where students are coming from and how college systems operate in these areas."
"We are very excited and feel lucky to have found someone who is extremely qualified for the job," said Assistant Provost Marsha H. Semuels, who will accompany Marine and Avery to a national conference on campus assault issues this month.
Even when she worked at the Cambridge health department, Marine took an interest in issues on Harvard's campus. Last spring she spoke at a "Take Back the Night" panel and has attended meetings of other Harvard sexual harassment interest groups.
"She was really well-received at 'Take Back the Night' last year, and we're really happy that there is now an administrator whose full-time job it is to deal with sexual harassment issues," Johnson said.
Marine said she plans to focus on response resources and on improving prevention.
"The services in the Cambridge area are fantastic," she said, "but they need to be disseminated, coordinated and organized for Harvard students to access them."