This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.
March 27, 2019
The pervasiveness of sexual misconduct on Harvard’s campus has led us to repeatedly call on the administration to do more, not only in its handling of specific cases, but also in the resources it offers to students. Under the new leadership of Director Pierre R. Berastaín Ojeda ’10, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response has admirably stepped up to the task.
With its new “community engagement model,” OSAPR has begun taking a more proactive approach in supporting students and making itself available as a resource. One of the office’s main objectives is to increase its visibility to students as a resource. That said, we deeply support the efforts the office has taken to do so, especially as it emphasizes OSAPR’s educational role, focuses on individual student needs, and seeks to make the office a non-intrusive resource.
OSAPR has admirably demonstrated its support for students in the first few months of Ojeda’s leadership, as the office has made an effort to be an active presence on campus. For instance, the office recently set up a booth with refreshments and informational pamphlets for students at a protest against Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.’s recent decision to defend former film executive Harvey Weinstein, who faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Though OSAPR is not allowed to take an official stance on the contentious issue as a University office, we appreciate its presence at this student-directed event and its staff’s efforts to show active support to students who may feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or disheartened in response to Sullivan’s decision. In coming to the event and offering students a chance to voice their concerns more directly to OSAPR, the office demonstrates a positive way forward for the University in offering unbiased and neutral support to students. This is a direction we have urged the College to move towards broadly, and we are glad to see it here.
Not only does this “community engagement model” help increase OSAPR’s visibility across the University, but it has positively transformed the way in which the office offers support. Ojeda stated that OSAPR aims to occupy a role in offering “pastoral care” to students, and tailoring its services to students’ needs, keeping in mind the different individual circumstances of Harvard’s diverse student body, such as faith backgrounds and sexual orientations. Toward achieving this goal, OSAPR’s efforts to modify its services to individual student needs is exceedingly valuable to a student body that may often feel constrained and misunderstood by University bureaucracy, especially when dealing with experiences as sensitive and as traumatic as sexual assault.
Overall, we are pleased to see OSAPR’s proactive efforts in engaging with and supporting the student body, especially on a campus that repeatedly and unfortunately experiences revelations of sexual misconduct. We look forward to seeing the effects of OSAPR’s work in the long term, as it directs the University down an exciting and important new path for student care.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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