MSU launches new campaign to support sexual assault, relationship violence survivors

Posted at 6:39 AM, Jan 07, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has launched a new campaign designed to help survivors of relationship violence, sexual assault and sexual misconduct. It's called Support More.

The campaign grew out of the university's relationship violence and sexual misconduct strategic plan. It's a way to help survivors and their friends know what to do.

"My incident occurred my freshman year at MSU," said Julia Lower, a senior at MSU. "It was at a student run event, and after that happened, I was really unsure of what to do and where to go."

The university conducted a campus-wide survey of students, faculty, and staff. They learned that many people didn't know where to go to seek help, or how to help.

"The support more campaign has two primary goals. The first one is to help educate everybody In the MSU community about all the different services and resources we have on campus for survivors of relationship violence, stalking, sexual assault and sexual misconduct," said Rebecca Campbell, who serves as an adviser to President Samuel Stanley on relationship violence and sexual misconduct.

The other goal is to help the campus community know what to say, what to do and how to help when someone discloses they've experienced any form of violence.

"We have a series of new videos that explain and take people on a tour of what our different services look like," she said.

Caitlynn Cutler, a sophomore at MSU, said she thinks the university "using their resources would be a good place to start and like telling people about it, if you're not really sure."

As a survivor, Lower thinks the support more campaign is great, but she says there's still work that needs to be done.

"While I do think the support more initiative is really great in terms of providing resources to other victims, I don't think it's completely comprehensive in terms of what students or other victims should know about what it would be like to seek justice or to receive help," she said.

She feels the process of reporting an incident and then having to go through a hearing can be grueling.

"The problem really relies or lies in the processes that are within them. Meaning if you try to seek support through social advocacy, or social work, know that there's high turnover in those jobs, and that you're likely not going to have just one advocate," she said, "but you'll have more which results in trauma because you have to retell your story because there's such a lack of consistency."

She feels the next step should be supporting students throughout the process when they are feeling trauma.

Liz Abdnour a Lansing attorney who has supported victims of sexual assault and used to work for MSU, believes the campaign falls short.

"it seems like it's a step in the same direction to me to be perfectly honest..." she said. "It doesn't address the concerns that I hear from the clients that I work with, which is not I don't know how to talk to people, or I don't know where to go. But when I talk to people, and when I go there, I don't feel heard."

MSU officials say they hope this can be a long-term campaign.

Campbell wants the community to know "this is not your fault. And there are so many people here who want to help you and give you the care and support that you need and deserve."

MSU plans to have new support materials rolled out in January and February. They've already started mailing students brochures providing support and more information.