Binghamton University in New York has announced that it is creating a Violence, Abuse, and Rape Crisis Center (VARCC) on campus. The center will be housed in the Old Johnson Hall and dedicated to providing crucial support and services to survivors of sexual assault. 

The VARCC will have a soft opening mid-March, to be followed by a more formal opening in early April for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Safe Space for Survivors

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Health and Wellness Officer Johann Flore-Conte highlighted the importance of having a single location where survivors could come forward with their experiences.

“We know it’s traumatic for students who wish to report to have to repeat their story to multiple offices and we are hoping that with better coordination of services, we can improve that,” Flore-Conte explained.

“The beauty of the VARCC is that it will be a place where multiple services are coordinated so we can respond efficiently and as supportively as possible to the students,” she added.

The center will also promote sexual assault advocacy, host bystander training, and other activities meant to raise awareness regarding sexual violence on campus. 

VARCC’s Healing Spaces

In addition, the VARCC will be able to provide counselors specializing in trauma recovery as well as connections to relevant authorities such as the University Police Department, the Binghamton Police Department and University Liaison, New York State investigators, and the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CVAC).

Flore-Conte added that aside from being a center where survivors may pursue legal action, the VARCC also plans on “developing healing spaces.”

“There’s research that supports the healing effects of a secure, comfortable space that provides opportunities for support, art therapy, journaling, crafting, etc. We’re hoping to build that into the new space,” she explained.

Discussion and Collaboration

The offices are expected to staff the center in rotations, with more people being called in as needed so the students can meet with them in one visit. 

These efforts are supplemented with discussions from student organizations such as the Student Association, the Graduate Student Organization, and the Women’s Student Union. 

Finally, Flore-Conte added that the VARCC will also be collaborating with the CVAC to offer off-campus resources and additional services. 

“We currently have a sexual assault advocate on campus, however, students sometimes prefer off-campus resources. We are working with the CVAC to create options for students, and greater access and availability of services. Services for the accused party will continue to be coordinated out of the CARE Team,” she explained.