Sexual Assault Advisors-Student Life - Carnegie Mellon University

Sexual Assault Advisors

Sexual Assault is a trauma that no one needs to face alone. The Sexual Assault Advisors, a team of staff, students, and faculty who are trained to work with survivors of sexual assault, are here to provide non-judgmental support, resource information, and referrals. Whether you are a survivor, or you would like to help a friend or loved one, you are welcome to call us at any time. This service is available to all members of the campus community, male or female, regardless of when the incident happened. A list of current advisors and their contact information is available online(.pdf) or in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs in 301 Warner Hall. If you would like more information about the group, please email saadvise@andrew.cmu.edu.

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. They are available to help a survivor organize her or his thoughts, provide comfort and relief, and help to regain the feeling of being in control. Advisors are knowledgeable about legal issues, medical treatment, and emotional support. They give survivors control over the process and allow her or him to make decisions about how to proceed. Sexual Assault Advisors are available to assist in seeking other resources.

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, sexual assault advisors cannot guarantee survivors complete confidentiality.

At the outset of any contact with a survivor, the Sexual Assault Advisor should explain the limits on confidentiality.  Depending on information the survivor shares with the Sexual Assault Advisor, 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, the Sexual Assault Advisor should also advise the survivor that he/she is free to discuss hypothetical scenarios without referencing names, dates, places, or other specific details.

Finally, Sexual Assault Advisors 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). 

Reports

In order to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all students that is free of sexual violence, Sexual Assault Advisors must fill out a report after working with a sexual assault survivor.  The report is prepared by the Sexual Assault Advisor in conjunction with the Sexual Assault Advisor Coordinator.  Information recorded in the report includes: the seriousness of the alleged harassment or assault; the survivor's age; the survivor's contact information; the date and location of the incident; and if there have been other harassment complaints made about the same individual.  Sexual Assault Advisors should only include the information that is volunteered by the survivor.  Sexual Assault Advisors should not directly solicit this information when speaking with a survivor.  A report should always be completed, even if very little information is provided or available.

Discrete Communication:

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 Sexual Assault Advisor. 

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, Sexual Assault Advisors 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, Sexual Assault Advisors may speak with the Sexual Assault Advisor Coordinator in Student Affairs or with a counselor from CAPS. 

Referrals for Counseling or Treatment

Sexual Assault Advisors should inform survivors that they may be referred to on or off campus health facilities and counseling as well as other community agencies that may be helpful to the survivor.  In the event that such resources are needed, the survivor will be advised prior to any referral and involved in any disclosure of information.

Retaliation Prohibited

Sexual Assault Advisors should also inform the survivor that Title IX prohibits retaliation (i.e. the alleged perpetrator is not allowed to retaliate against the complainant) and that Carnegie Mellon will not only take steps to prevent retaliation but also take strong responsive action if it occurs.  The safety and well being of the survivor will be protected

1.  Accuser and accused must have the same opportunity to have others present at disciplinary proceedings.

2.  Both parties shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding.

3.  Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify law enforcement.

 4.  Survivors shall be notified of counseling services.

 5.  Survivors shall be notified of options for changing academic and living situations.

Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights