RASAN shifts from 24-hour support hotline to self-scheduled appointments

Rachel Schmidt

The College’s Rape and Sexual Assault Network (RASAN) discontinued its 24-hour support hotline, effective Feb. 14. Now, students can receive support regarding sexual violence through anonymous self-scheduled phone appointments with certified RASAN members.

RASAN, which is a student-run club on campus, formerly offered a 24-hour hotline that any members of the College community could call to receive immediate support regarding sexual violence. However, due to a decrease in hotline usage over the past few years and an increase in the number of in-person referrals, the hotline is no longer operational.

In an email to the College community, RASAN Co-Chair Emily Lock ’22 wrote that “changing the format of [RASAN’s] support system … would better direct RASAN’s resources to fulfill the needs of the Williams community.”

According to the RASAN website, members undergo a training program that educates them on general sexual violence prevention and survivor support, along with RASAN’s policies. Curriculum topics include sexual violence terminology, data and statistics on sexual violence, coping strategies, and support for queer survivors. To host phone appointments, members must pass an exam and receive approval from the RASAN Training Coordinators, who lead the training process.

The majority of students who use RASAN services “reach out to RASAN members they personally know or are introduced to through other students,” Lock and Co-Chair Gabrielle Granata ’22 wrote in an email to the Record.

The new system, which will allow students to sign up for 30-minute phone appointments on the RASAN website, “connects individuals in the community with [RASAN] services in a more accessible and confidential manner,” Lock and Granata wrote.

RASAN appointments are currently held over the phone due to COVID-19 precautions, but the organization’s co-chairs told the Record that RASAN hopes to offer in-person support options in a “consistent, safe, and private room.” RASAN currently requires 24-hour advance notice for an appointment; unlike the former hotline, the appointment system is not designed for emergency use.

If any members of the community are seeking immediate support related to sexual violence, they can reach out to Williams’ Sexual Assault Survivor Service at 413-597-3000, the Elizabeth Freeman Center of Berkshire County at 866-401-2425, or the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network at 1-800- 656-4673.