On the George Washington University campus, there are several positions that are set up solely to help sexual assault victims.
But according to a recent article from the campus newspaper, there is a frequent turnover for these crucial jobs, and victims and experts say the high turnover rate “creates an unstable environment” for the vulnerable people who need support.
The paper reports that there have been three victim services coordinators – who provide support for victims during the reporting process – over the past three years, with an interim filling the vital role since the fall.
The school says the turnover rate has nothing to do with the job itself, and that it’s normal for institutions of this size to have these kinds of turnover.
There’s currently only one full-time staff member in the Title IX office.
Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who focused on sex crimes for the U.S. Justice Department, is one of the experts who says this turnover rate will have a negative impact on the victims and the community as a whole.
“The high turnover hurts the consistency of the Title IX office and interferes with building ongoing trust and relationships with the campus community,” Wu told the GW Hatchet.
Wu is now in private practice and specializes in defending college students. He says the victim services coordinator position is one that should be occupied by an employee who can handle a large case load with varying kinds of offenses.
It’s very important that the people serving in these roles don’t have overwhelming caseloads, as it could interfere with their ability to service the victims. It can also hurt morale if these victim services coordinators don’t feel like they have adequate resources and support.
Another problem with the high turnover rates is that students who are victims of sexual assault often don’t know who they should talk to on campus. The victim services coordinator has to have a good relationship with the student body and be someone who is trusted by students and the school community.
“Survivors don’t know where to go because there is not a consistent person, there is no name recognition,” said Alumna Maya Weinstein, a sexual assault survivor and former member of the Committee for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. “It takes a long time for the student population to find an individual in a role like that credible. And none of these people have been there long enough to establish that.”
If you or someone you know is having legal issues on a college campus, contact Shan Wu’s office today for help.