On Saturday, the Sexual Respect Peer Alliance (SRPA) shared on their Instagram page that the group is no longer affiliated with New Directions.
SRPA was founded in the fall of 2018 and for the past four years has provided confidential, student-to-student support via a group of trained advocates on issues relating to sexual misconduct, sexual respect and consent. Since 2020, SRPA has been affiliated with New Directions, a domestic abuse crisis center in Mount Vernon, which has provided training to SRPA supporters.
According to SRPA co-president August Hochman ’23, the organization only recently learned that it would not be working with New Directions. “In mid-August, the SRPA organization received a letter from New Directions saying that our partnership had been ended. We have been working to understand why this decision was made,” she said.
Without its partnership with New Directions, SRPA as an organization is no longer able to provide sexual assault advocacy services to the campus community. “What allowed us to do that before was our partnership with New Directions, because New Directions is part of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence,” Hochman explained. They said SRPA has reached out to the alliance directly to find partners to work with.
Though many students heard the news through an email from Chris Smith, senior director of wellness, Hochman disputes that SRPA requested Smith send the email to the whole Kenyon community. She said the group only asked Smith to inform faculty and staff of the change to SRPA’s status. “We feel that that message did not accurately represent the conversations we had with him and the Health and Counseling center.” They emphasized that going forward, SRPA will communicate directly with the student body.
Looking forward, Hochman outlined that SRPA is focused both on finding new partners and on expanding its work. “Prior to receiving this communication that we were no longer partnered with New Directions, we actually had plans to increase SRPA accessibility on campus.” These plans included incorporating SRPA into first-year orientation, as well as working with Greek organizations on campus.
“SRPA is still strong. We’re adapting to the new information that we’re receiving, and we’re looking for new ways to provide services to students as soon as we are able to do that in a way that is certified by the state of Ohio to perform sexual assault advocacy,” Hochman said.