Risk management student group forms to address safety concerns with social events

| News Editor

Contact, a student group aimed to address potential safety risks at off-campus or otherwise unsupervised events, formed this semester.

Members of the group will receive training from the Emergency Support Team (EST), Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Helpline (S.A.R.A.H), Leaders in Interpersonal Violence Education (LIVE) and Green Dot. This way, response team members will be trained in both sexual assault preventative actions, including bystander intervention, and preliminary post-trauma counseling.

Junior co-founder Natalie Aaronson characterized Contact as an “assess and refer organization.”

“Our goal is to create a sober contacting system for off-campus events and otherwise unsupervised events that otherwise have no form of sober contact available,” Aaronson said. “[We’re] creating a preliminary point person for students to come to, whether it’s post-trauma, if they’re too drunk and they’re unsure if they need EST.”

Contact members will be stationed at openly advertised or unsupervised events, but also be available at places with heavy foot traffic at night, like the clock tower on the South 40 and the Village.

“We know that while our goal is to have students stationed at all events, you could have students coming from all over St. Louis back to campus in a heavily intoxicated state,” co-founder and president Hayley Miller said. “Our idea was to have pairs stationed at those drop-off points to serve as one more resource available to students in that moment.”

The idea was conceptualized after the Women’s Panhellenic Association climate survey, but the co-founders stressed that the group is not meant for just Greek events. They hope to gain enough interest from students to become active by the start of the spring semester.

“We want our program to be accessible for the whole Wash. U. community and not necessarily just have our contacts at individual Greek events,” Miller said. “Our idea is to set up a contact system where, no matter the event a student was at, they would be able to reach out to our volunteers and get that support.”

In addition to student-run organizations, the group is working with formal on campus resources, like the RSVP center.

“I think there are so many clubs and groups that have done really incredible work raising awareness of sexual violence and trying to educate to prevent sexual violence, and we are incredibly supportive of the work that they are doing,” Miller said. “We’re hoping that our resource will just be able to add an additional option, an additional voice in this community.”

Additional Reporting by Aiden Blinn.