University revamps sexual violence advocacy

By: Charlotte Cheek ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of Paisley Scarberry | Scarberry helps students who have experienced gender-based violence.

According to a study by CNN, 23 percent of women report sexual assault in college. Paisley Scarberry, who works in Xavier’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said that Xavier’s statistics on gender-based violence match the national average.

After the university closed its Womens Center in 2013, the center’s services were absorbed into the Multicultural, Gender and Women’s Center. This rebranded as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in fall 2015. Xavier also hired full-time Title IX Coordinator Kate Lawson in 2013 after the university was placed under federal monitoring for its handling of sexual assault allegations on campus.

Scarberry has been working in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion since November as the Advocacy and Prevention Coordinator. This new position was created to offer confidential advocacy to students who experience sexual and/or gender-based violence. Scarberry works confidentially with students on tasks such as reporting sexual violence to Title IX or the police (if they choose to do so), going to the hospital for a rape exam or finding other resources in the community for help.

Additionally, Scarberry is always available to listen. She runs a 24-hour campus advocacy hotline for those who need immediate help. This position differs from Title IX in that it is confidential. Talking to Scarberry does not constitute an official university report nor does it imply consent to pursue legal action.

“It’s important to take care of yourself,” Scarberry said. “You need to know that it’s not your fault. There are people who believe you and are here to support you.”

Scarberry gets her passion for such a demanding job from her past work experience and beliefs. “I believe everyone deserves to live a life free of violence and, as a community, we can make that vision a reality,” she said.

Another part of her job is working to prevent gender-based violence. A large part of this is coordinating events that spread awareness about these crimes. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion will coordinate sexual assault awareness month in April.

“Students can support this work in a lot of different ways by attending events that are focused on violence prevention awareness,” Scarberry said. “Students are responsible for creating a culture that’s safe and inclusive for all people, specifically survivors who have experienced an assault.”

Scarberry has already seen an impact on Xavier’s campus during her first two months here.

“I’ve been surprised to see the amount of support the position has received and the amount of students who are reaching out for support. I’m hoping with time, as more prevention and outreach happens, students will feel more comfortable reaching out for support,” Scarberry said.

If you are a victim of gender- based violence and want to talk to Scarberry, her 24-hour help line is (513) 904-9013.