Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University’s Sexual Assault Response Team earns National Award of Excellence

Georgia Southern University’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) has been selected as an Excellence Award Gold Winner by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). This is the University’s first award in this category and places it in consideration for the NASPA Gold Medal, Silver Medal, or Bronze Medal Grand Awards recognizing the top three programs in the nation.

‘We are honored to receive this recognition and appreciate NASPA recognizing the collaborative efforts of numerous healthcare professionals, local agencies, law enforcement and the University community,” said Jodi Caldwell, assistant director of the Counseling Center and chair of the University’s SART. ‘This year is the tenth anniversary of SART, and each year we add a new initiative to keep the program strong.” All SART members are volunteers.

Prior to 1997 there were no resources to respond to sexual assault incidents in the four counties surrounding Statesboro, Ga. In 1997 SART founders called law enforcement, campus leaders, hospitals, counseling centers, and medical practitioners together to begin working as a team in developing policies and coordinating services in cases of sexual assault. In 1998, the team began community outreach programming to educate area populations to understand and reduce the risk of sexual assault. The resulting educational programs have been recognized both regionally and nationally for their strategic approach and in 2007, the SART worked directly with the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Court to approve a sexual assault response protocol based on the team’s model.

On campus, SART sponsors events such as ‘Sex Signals,” a performance highlighting dating and sexual assault awareness, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this year beginning Feb. 14. Statewide, SART has created an e-mail distribution list for other sexual assault response teams throughout Georgia. Members of that group”including representatives from Georgia Southern’s SART”met recently with Georgia’s state legislators to discuss revising Georgia’s outdated sexual assault laws. Nationally, SART has presented at the National Conference on Sexual Assault on College Campuses for the past five years, and internationally, a Georgia Southern University faculty member will be using the SART model this spring for a United Nations-sponsored research project in Albania. Additionally, SART will present its model at the Southern College Health Association’s meeting in Savannah March 26-28.

‘One of the things that makes this program even more unique is that Georgia Southern University is one of only 12 colleges and universities in the nation to have SANE”a sexual assault nurse examiner available to students on campus,” added Caldwell. ‘Having a health care professional with forensic training in sexual assault streamlines the judicial process.”

The team has been invited to participate in a poster session recognizing Gold Award winners during NASPA’s Annual Conference in Boston. The team will receive recognition through the NASPA Forum and will be showcased in a collection of Gold Award winners on the NASPA Excellence Awards Web resource center.

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