The university has a responsibility to support the students and create a safe environment. They are failing and reducing supports for survivors instead of increasing them and that needs to change. Students are mobilizing to demand resources, access to information, and more power in the decision making process relating to hiring and firing, as well as the process for supporting survivors.
It has come to our attention that the contract of Christin Guilder, Assistant Director of the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence, is not being renewed at the end of this semester. This information has not yet been openly disclosed to the public, nor has an adequate explanation as to her termination been provided. We, concerned students, alumni, faculty, staff, and allies, demand answers; specifically, the following.
Firstly, we demand more transparency in the hiring, firing, and employment status of university staff. While we understand that this may be difficult to provide for every university employee, staff whose primary responsibilities include fostering connections with students for emotional and mental support are thereby depended on by members of the campus community and expected to offer a sense of stability. While one may leave his or her position in such a role for any number of reasons, students should be alerted to these changes in employment status in order to make appropriate changes to their self-care regimen.
Secondly, we demand an open forum in which these decisions can be discussed openly with students. As students contribute to both the financial and emotional health of the university, it is necessary that we are alerted to any changes in the budget or cultural climate that apparently require the termination of an employee as valued as Guilder.
Thirdly, we demand more resources be made available in which students can openly discuss both sexual assault and their concerns with the university’s current advocacy initiatives. The termination of Guilder’s position leaves students with only Carol Stenger in the Advocacy Center, despite the many testimonies from students and alum citing her incompetence and unsafe practices. Students must be provided more on-campus alternatives to the guidance of Stenger, as well as information of off-campus resources such as the Crime Victim & Sexual Violence Center. Simply making this information available on a website is not enough; these resources should be publicized to the same extent as our on-campus Advocacy Center, even if it doesn’t reel in the same profits or veneer of public image. As your office has continuously stressed “community engagement,” we ask that you live up to these standards you purport to achieve.
Lastly, we demand the immediate renewal of Guilder’s contract, including a statement from the university president acknowledging our concerns and the need for expansion of resources in the fight against sexual assault in our campus community.