Survivor Support Network
- A team of staff, students, and faculty who provide support, information, resources, and referrals to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
- Available to survivors, or their friends/loved ones, that are members of our campus community regardless of when the incident happened- you are welcome to call us at anytime.
- Able to provide comfort and relief, and help a survivor organize their thoughts as well as regain the feeling of being in control.
- Knowledgeable about legal issues, medical treatment, and emotional support, while allowing survivors to make their own decisions on how to proceed.
History & Recent Name Change
The Sexual Assault Advisors have been serving the campus community since 1991 and are available to talk with survivors about their experiences and explore local resources so that survivors might take steps toward recovery including professional support from a counselor, psychiatrist, or therapist.
In the last year alone, there have been multiple changes made to sexual violence and domestic violence policies on college campuses around the country and CMU is no exception. As of just a few weeks ago, new directives for colleges and universities were provided by the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education. These directives are critical to primary prevention of sexual and power-based violence on campuses and CMU is 100% committed to carefully looking at the literature and implementing the best programs and resources to ensure the safety of students, staff, and faculty.
After careful conversations with Sexual Assault Advisors (SAAs), Housefellows, faculty, and administration, we have decided to implement a name change to the Sexual Assault Advisor program at CMU that reflects the mission and directives of Title IX, VAWA, and the Clery Act.
As of today and moving into the new school year, SAAs will no longer be SAAs. The SAA group will now be referred to as the Survivor Support Network. This name change reflects the importance of creating a network of support for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and continuing to support survivors of sexual assault. Additional training has been added to the SSN training curriculum to account for this change and prepare SSNs for this support role.
Limits on Confidentiality
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Under Title IX, Carnegie Mellon University has a duty to provide all members of its community (including students) with an environment that is free from all forms of sex discrimination. Recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education has made it very clear that as a part of its duties under Title IX, the University has a legal obligation to promptly respond to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence in a way that limits the effects and prevents recurrence. As such, the Survivor Support Network cannot guarantee survivors complete confidentiality.
At the outset of any contact with a survivor, the Survivor Support Network should explain the limits on confidentiality. Depending on information the survivor shares with individual from the Survivor Support Network, the University may have an obligation to investigate reports of sexual harassment or sexual violence and take appropriate action to limit the effects of the behavior and prevent recurrence. For example, sexual assault advisors must complete a report concerning any instances of sexual harassment or sexual violence of which they become aware. This report and other information may be shared with other University officials, on a need to know basis, depending on the nature of the report.
In light of these limits on confidentiality, members of the Survivor Support Network should also advise the survivor that he/she is free to discuss hypothetical scenarios without referencing names, dates, places, or other specific details.
Finally, the Survivor Support Network should advise survivors of the availability of other resources that may be positioned to provide greater assurances of confidentiality, such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR).
At all times, survivors of sexual assault should be treated with honor, dignity, and respect. It is especially important that survivors feel they can completely trust a member of the Survivor Support Network.
Any communication with a survivor, including electronic communications, should be performed discretely so as to avoid inadvertent disclosure of information. When speaking with a survivor, a member of the Survivor Support Network should make sure they are in an enclosed area where no on else could be listening or may interrupt the conversation. The survivor's experiences should never be shared with close friends, roommates, family members, Resident Assistants or Community Advisors. If you feel that you need to further discuss a situation with someone, a member of the Survivor Support Network may speak with the Sexual Assault Advisor Coordinator in Student Affairs or with a counselor from CAPS.