OU officials: OUSAP a priority; no plans to defund program
Students are concerned Ohio University’s Survivor Advocacy Program will run out of funding, as it is set to in October, but university officials say the program is a priority.
OUSAP is a program that provides support and guidance for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, primarily through its 24-hour hotline.
Susanne Dietzel, director of OU’s Women’s Center, said she is “confident” the university will fund the program.
“I think there’s a great desire on our campus to keep this going because it performs a valuable service,” Dietzel said.
Chants led by the Ohio University Student Union at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting included explicit demands to fully fund the OUSAP.
OU administrators were confused by these demands.
“The Board doesn’t vote on individual programmatic initiatives. The Board votes on big-picture things,” said Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones. “We were baffled.”
Currently, the program is funded by a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.
University officials have maintained they want to keep the program open, but some students have their doubts.
“With all of these behind-closed-doors conversations, it is difficult to have any faith in the university that they will fund the program to the extent that is needed and that the Survivor Advocacy Program will remain autonomous,” Claire Chadwick, a junior studying sociology and women and gender studies and co-founder of F--kRapeCulture, said in an email.
The protesters’ demand to fully fund OUSAP was not addressed by the Board during their meeting, but other means of funding are being sought in order to continue the program.
Hall Jones said the Diversity and Inclusion unit “has put forward funding requests for full-time, permanent funding coming into this year that the Survivor Advocacy program was a priority,” Hall-Jones said.
Bethany N. Bella contributed to this article.