Students, community members, seek answers on closing of sexual assault victim Advocacy Center

Syracuse University administrators held the first of what they say will be several listening sessions regarding the closing of the Advocacy Center this evening.

On June 4, the Advocacy Center closed its doors for good after providing services for victims of sexual assault and violence for more than two decades.

Citing compliance issues with federal confidentiality guidelines and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the University moved to do away with the Advocacy Center and have the larger Counseling Center serve as the primary service for victims. Campus administrators hope that increased confidentiality measures will encourage student victims to seek help, but not everyone agrees that the merger was the right move.

"SU was really, historically, one of the first college campuses to have an Advocacy Center so it's just really a loss for our community that they're taking it away," said rising Syracuse senior Brittany Moore. "I think there's a lot of fear about what that will mean and I'm really curious to see how it will work under the new structure."

Opponents also fear that heightened confidentiality measures might mean that inaccurate data will be reported on sexual assaults. The Counseling Center is exempt from reporting such crimes required under the Clery Act.

University officials however, insist that statistics on campus crime will continue to be disclosed once reports have been declassified.

"We're not trying to play with numbers or hide data," said Corey Wallack, Director of the Syracuse University Counseling Center. "Syracuse is going to continue to report consistent with Clery Act reporting statistics, as the university has been doing all along."