WOAR receives more calls to 24/7 hotline

Monique Howard, executive director of Women Organized Against Rape (left), and Nichet Sykes, a court advocate for WOAR, are pushing to increase usage of WOAR’s services for students. | KATHY CHAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Women Organized Against Rape, an organization that offers a 24/7 hotline for sexual assault crisis situations, has received an increase in calls to its satellite office on Main Campus since October when The Temple News reported that no students had yet utilized the hotline.

Monique Howard, the executive director of WOAR, did not provide the specific number of people who have used the 24-hour hotline. Because all calls to the hotline are anonymous, it cannot gather much information from callers except their ZIP codes, Howard said.

While there has been an increased number of calls to the hotline, there has not been a need to dispatch a counselor from Temple’s satellite office on Main Campus, Howard said.

WOAR, which partnered with the university in February 2017, offers resources for survivors of sexual assault. It can dispatch a counselor to meet with a student who calls the hotline within 30 minutes to an hour.

In 2017, there were 20 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, wrote Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone in an email to The Temple News. In 2016, there were 14 reported incidents of sexual misconduct.

Of the reports of misconduct in 2017, there were six reported instances of forcible rape — five in on-campus residence halls and one in an off-campus residence. There were 14 reported instances of forcible fondling, three of which were on campus with one in a residence hall, one in a non-campus building and 10 on public property.

Temple Police did not receive any sexual misconduct reports in January through March of this year, Leone wrote.

This academic year, Temple Police investigated sexual assault allegations that occurred at Johnson and Hardwick residence halls, on Fontain Street near 17th on Sept. 22 and an alleged assault in a private residence on 15th Street near Oxford on Oct. 29.

But Howard said when students call the hotline but do not need to meet a counselor, it is “undercover good news” because it means services at the university, like Tuttleman Counseling Services, are working in the ways that they should.

“If an individual from campus is calling, they are given the services from the hotline so a counselor doesn’t need to be dispatched,” she added.

The satellite office is not associated with the university and was created in response to demands from students who advocated for more accessible sexual assault resources on campus.

The university’s on-campus sexual assault resources have been widely criticized by student organizations this year.

Members of Temple’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance were escorted out of a Board of Trustees meeting last month after they criticized the university’s lack of resources for survivors and called out Board Chairman Patrick O’Connor for representing Bill Cosby in a 2005 civil suit regarding sexual assault allegations. O’Connor is listed as a potential witness at Cosby’s retrial that began on Monday.

FMLA and other student organizations like Student Activists Against Sexual Assault have consistently called on the university to create an on-campus services center for sexual assault survivors. The university maintains it will not create such a center because of the stigma that would prevent people from entering a building dedicated to sexual assault services.

“[WOAR] is a resource that continues to be utilized and Temple remains committed to this ongoing collaboration that meets the needs of our students,” wrote Valerie Harrison, the senior adviser for equity, diversity and inclusion, in an email to The Temple News.

The increased attention to the needs of sexual assault survivors is not unique to Main Campus. Nationally, social movements have shed light on sexual assault and misconduct this year, which is part of the reason more students are using the hotline, Howard said.

“It’s the #MeToo movement, the increase of sexual harassment allegations, the Time’s Up movement and at the same time we’re doing a lot on social media and getting out on the street and raising visibility and awareness,” she added.

Only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement nationally, according to Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Rape is the most underreported crime, Howard said.

In Philadelphia, the number of sexual assaults reported to police decreased by 6 percent in 2017, WHYY reported.

“Hopefully with the #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up movement, the increase in visibility in our partnership and organization, reports will go up,” she added. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that the rapes increase, it just means the reporting will catch up to the actual crime.”

Students can call WOAR’s hotline at 215-985-3333.

Lindsay Bowen
can be reached at lindsay.bowen@temple.edu Or you can follow Lindsay on Twitter @lindsay_bow Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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