Changes to the Rape Prevention Education program sparked protest among concerned peer educators and students throughout the summer.
The decision to restructure Student Health Services meant moving the previously autonomous unit Rape Prevention Education (RPE) under the direction of the Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP) program.
Gillian Greensite, RPE program founder and director for 30 years, retired after her position as a rape prevention educator was eliminated in the reorganization.
SHOP will now employ a sexual health educator in place of the RPE director.
Peer-to-peer rape educator Nina Milliken started Coalition to Save UCSC Rape Prevention Education, a Facebook group and letter-writing campaign, in protest of the changes. So far, the group, which has 1,276 members, has sent in hundreds of letters to campus administration from students and alumni, Milliken said.
The changes to RPE are politically motivated, Milliken said, and she fears what these changes will mean for students.
The group aims to preserve RPE as it has historically existed on campus, with its own office, specially trained staff, peer-to-peer education and counseling and for the word “rape” to remain in the program title.
Mary Knudston, executive director of the Student Health Center, stressed that the reorganization of rape prevention resources will not eliminate or reduce services to students. “We are developing an expanded, more inclusive sexual assault prevention and education program to better meet the needs of all students,” Knudston said in an e-mail to Save Rape Prevention Education supporters. “Crisis counseling will continue as a resource as part of the program, and is available year-round.”
Milliken said the group is especially concerned that the reorganization may mean a shift from a rape prevention to a rape reduction model of counseling.
“Right now we focus on saying, ‘If a girl is passed out, don’t have sex with her’ — that is rape prevention,” Milliken said. “A rape reduction model will focus more on saying, ‘Don’t get drunk.’ This shift of focus on to how not to get raped unintentionally blames the victim, and [rape] is never the victim’s fault.”