OSAPR To Receive University Funding

The College’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response will officially offer its services to the entire University starting in the fall, according to OSAPR Director Sarah Rankin.

OSAPR—which has been primarily College-funded since its inception in 2003—will be partially funded by the student health service fees from students across the University next fall.

The College will continue to provide additional funding for OSAPR’s prevention and awareness programs, according to Jeff Neal, a spokesman for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Rankin called the change a “step in the right direction.” About a quarter of the students the office currently counsels attend Harvard’s graduate and professional schools, according to Rankin.

“It really legitimizes our work with the graduate students,” she said.

The change will significantly increase the scope of the office.

“Essentially, we are going from serving 6,500 [students] to 20,000,” Rankin said.

Despite the increased demand, Rankin said that OSAPR does not plan on hiring any new staff, though she said the Office’s educational specialist may have to deal with a larger percentage of victim services cases.

As part of the FAS budget cuts, which began nearly two years ago, OSAPR’s budget was cut 25 percent, according to Rankin. Additionally, OSAPR was closed last July, something which had not occurred in years past, and which sparked controversy across campus.

Going forward, the University plans on maintaining the Office’s services throughout the year, according to Neal.

Rankin said she does not believe the Office’s increased responsibilities will diminish the quality of OSAPR’s services to undergraduates.

“I think that the majority of our cases will always be College students,” Rankin said. “We have the closest relationship with the College.”

Aside from officially expanding their 24-hour victim counseling services across the University, Rankin said she also plans on working to better promote existing resources outside the College. For example, the Office plans to more widely publicize In Common, a peer counseling hotline for Harvard’s graduate and professional schools.

Rankin said she is looking forward to the opportunity to work with schools across the University in an effort to improve and update their sexual assault policies, which, she added, can vary greatly. Some of the University’s professional schools’ sexual assault policies are less comprehensive than the College’s, Rankin said.

“Unlike the College, some of the professional schools haven’t handled a student to student sexual misconduct case in years. One benefit to the expansion of services is that OSAPR can offer assistance in updating policies or procedures that may need to be reviewed,” Rankin said.

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.

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