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University of Montana improves victim services on campus

The University of Montana’s SARC (Student Advocacy Resource Center) is improving its services to better serve students and, just as importantly, improving support staff and student counselors.

KGVO spoke with Jennifer Euell, director of UM’s SARC on Thursday morning, who outlined the program’s mission.

“The Student Advocacy Resource Center here at the university is the space on campus that provides support services to all of our students who may have experienced what we call identity-based harm.” began Euell. “Most often, of course, would be sexual assault survivors; also survivors of interpersonal violence, but also sometimes survivors of discrimination and harassment if it is based on their identity.

Euell said SARC has a dual purpose of supporting students during a difficult time in their lives.

“It looks like both advocacy and counseling services,” she said. “So our advocacy services basically meet with students and work with them to understand what different options are available to them for reporting options if they want to report under title nine or if they want to report potentially to law enforcement. , but also looking at what other types of resources might be available to them. »

Euell described the purpose of each contact with a victim who turns to SARC for help.

“Being that first responder that’s there, which is such an important role, because what we want to make sure we convey to these students is that it’s not your fault,” she said. . “This is a crime that was committed by someone else, and we are here to support you and make sure that from now on you can make choices, and we are going to support you in your recovery. “

Euell said the upgrade means additional services are available for SARC staff and advisors, so they too can receive help when needed.

“The University has restructured it slightly so that we have a full-time principal, which is my job,” she said. “But we also now have a staff member who is our direct services coordinator. So he’s really the one who is able to work with our student interns and provide guidance to students who might need someone with a bit more experience or a bit more skill to deliver advanced work. In addition, we also have a staff member who takes care of the outreach part, so it’s not all about one person. »

In a press release, Euell states: “SARC is a completely confidential service. Staff members are not required to report anything to the authorities unless someone’s life is in danger or a child has been injured. The victim decides whether charges are brought to the authorities. SARC offers counseling services and a 24-hour crisis line (406-243-6559) for students and others experiencing sexual assault, relationship abuse, bullying, bullying or discrimination.

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