A new USC program expanded sexual assault services by offering students 24-hour support for survivors of sexual assault or gender-based harm. The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Service office now has five professional advocates on rotating shifts, ready to assist students.
“Advocates are here to help them to access services we have on campus,” said Brenda Ingram, director of RSVP. “Such as if they need emergency housing, if they need food, if they need help with a Title IX investigation or report.”
Students can work with advocates to discuss possible paths to take after an incident occurs. According to Ingram, the advocates are well-versed in community resources, such as the criminal justice system or family court, and will work with campus partners to eliminate barriers to services for clients.
The USC Health Center also provides access to private rides to emergency rooms. Students who need transportation to Sexual Assault Response Teams or treatment centers can ask the office for rideshare services at no cost.
“It’s really important for us to let the student know that it’s their choice moving forward,” said Alanna DeLeon, one of five RSVP advocates. “We’re not there to tell them what to do, we’re just telling them the resources and supporting them every step of the way.”
Advocates will also address issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence as well as stalking.
“If they’re getting harassed because of their gender -- it could be by anyone, another student, by a staff or faculty,” Ingram said. “We’re here to support all students on both campuses.”
RSVP also provides bystander intervention resources for students who may know survivors and are seeking more information about providing support.
All contact with the advocates will remain completely confidential. However, USC school policy requires counselors to report cases in which students might harm themselves or others.
While it is important for the university to provide these resources, it is also essential that they can be advertised effectively to students. According to a 2019 university campus climate survey, many students are not aware of the resources the university provides for survivors of sexual assault or gender-based discrimination.
Nearly one-third of USC undergraduate women reported experiencing at least one instance of non-consensual sexual contact, according to a report released on Oct. 15. While the number of reported incidents increased by 17.6 % from 2015, the was a decrease in student knowledge of where to get help or file a report after a sexual assault.
Students seeking to contact an advocate can use MySHR to book appointments or directly ask questions to nurses and counselors. The RSVP office is located in the Engemann Student Health Center, Suite 356. Students can speak with advocates at walk-in meetings between 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekends, or by calling (213) 740-9355.