Temple and Women Organized Against Rape, a nonprofit that offers a 24/7 sexual assault crisis hotline, have been partners for nearly nine months. But no students have accessed help from WOAR’s satellite office on Main Campus, despite Temple Police publicly investigating two sexual assault cases this semester.
In January, the university secured its partnership with WOAR in response to the demands of students who wanted a more comprehensive resource on campus for sexual assault. As a result, WOAR created its satellite office, which is not associated with the university. Students can call the crisis hotline, and a counselor from the satellite office will meet on Main Campus with any survivor of sexual assault.
This is the first partnership WOAR has made with any Philadelphia-area university.
After nine months of availability, WOAR Executive Director Monique Howard said services had not yet been utilized by students.
“We have not received to date any calls specifically from Temple University with the need to have someone go out to the secured location on campus,” Howard said.
The process is set up so that when students call the hotline, they are met by a trained sexual assault counselor within 30 minutes to an hour. The counselor then provides confidential assistance in a secure location. But no call has yet facilitated a meeting like this.
Fourteen cases of sexual offenses on and around Main Campus were reported to Campus Safety Services in 2016. Temple Police is currently investigating two sexual assault cases that occurred in Johnson and Hardwick Residence Hall and the 1700 block of Fontain Street on Sept. 22. Both suspects have been identified by Temple Police, said Charlie Leone, director of Campus Safety Services.
A report released by the Department of Justice in 2014 revealed that “among student victims, 20 percent of rape and sexual assault victimizations were reported to police.” This report also found that students ages 18 to 24 were less likely to report alleged sexual assaults to police as compared to non-students of the same ages.
Temple’s Title IX Coordinator Andrea Seiss, who investigates alleged acts of discrimination and sexual assault on campus, said she was unaware of the number of calls WOAR was receiving from students.
Her office will request aggregate data on calls placed to the hotline from students “at some point this semester,” she added.
According to a 2014 report issued by the Presidential Committee on Campus Sexual Misconduct formed under former President Neil Theobald, the committee recommended 24/7 counseling and sexual assault hotlines.
“Currently, Tuttleman Counseling Services does not have its own hotline; rather it promotes a city-wide rape crisis center, Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), that offers various resources, including a 24-hour hotline,” the report reads. “Respondents reported a desire for 24-hour sexual assault counseling services as well as a Temple run 24-hour hotline.”
The report also called for a sexual assault center on campus where survivors could go to receive care, but Seiss said the university has no current plans to move forward with that recommendation.
Both Seiss and Howard said there was a lack of awareness among students about the services and resources their respective offices provide.
“What we heard from students is they want us to get ourselves out there more,” Seiss said. “We started it last academic year, and we’ve rolled out a new marketing campaign as part of some data that we have been able to gather from focus groups with students, and that marketing campaign is largely about who to go to…so that they can get the support and services that we have to offer.”
“We have increased our marketing to Temple University,” Howard said. “We have been a stronger presence on campus, and it’s going to take the students a minute to really determine or figure out how to utilize [WOAR] in an effort to give them support.”
Survivors of sexual assault who want to access WOAR’s resources can be met anywhere on Main Campus within 30 minutes to an hour by a representative by calling WOAR’s hotline at 215-985-3333.