By Jordan Payne
A student ambassador program is launching at the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) this quarter to expand the office’s volunteer network and outreach.
Named the SARA Ambassador Program, student participants will attend a mandatory training session per month on various topics including healthy relationships, building consent culture, identity and intersectionality and outreach skills, as well as spend at least two hours per month volunteering for SARA-related events. These volunteer shifts include tabling for awareness months, assisting with SARA and Confidential Support Team self-care sessions as well as Take Back The Night-related activities.
The idea for this new program was hatched when the SARA office decided to evaluate “gap areas” in its programming and outreach efforts.
“We realized that there was a huge gap area that we needed to address,” said Grace Poon, coordinator of prevention education and training at SARA, “which was that many students are interested in the work that our office does but perhaps don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to commit to a large scale commitment and/or have the training or experience to implement education sustainably and effectively.”
SARA student staffer Malia Wakinekona ’18 saw the new initiative as an opportunity to enhance sexual assault education on campus in a more personalized way.
“I kind of view it as a way to get connected more on a personal level with students who are interested, whether that’s learning more about what consent looks like or what conversations about sexuality looks like or how they can take that passion and train and enact things in their own community,” Wakinekona said.
A major focus of the program is education, and both Poon and Wakinekona hope that the program will expand SARA’s community.
“My hope is that we get applications from people who we’ve never seen before,” Wakinekona said. “I would really love to meet people where they are in this experience,”
Poon added that SARA will seek to support the interests that student ambassadors bring to the table by equipping them with the tools they need to contribute to sexual violence prevention and education.
“We want to make sure that we’re partnering with the passion that students have already exhibited and support them in crafting their passion by providing them with the tools to be successful,” Poon said. “We hope that this program can form a firm foundation and an invitation to join, revisit and/or continue in this movement to end sexual and intimate partner violence along with us.”
Another goal of the program is to link ambassadors to other SARA programs and goals.
“My hope for this program is that it becomes a pipeline to our other SARA initiatives to create a Stanford culture that affirms and celebrates caring relationships,” Poon said.
Though the program is starting this winter quarter, organizers hope that it will carry on through the spring and become a permanent program.
Interested students may apply on the SARA website and through an application form distributed on the sarasupports listserv. The application is due on Jan. 21, and applicants will be notified approximately a week after the deadline about whether they were selected as an ambassador. All students, including graduate students, are encouraged to apply.
Contact Jordan Payne at jpayne1 ‘at’ stanford.edu.