Eastern Oregon University > Mountaineer Magazine > Spring 2019 > Closing the gap

Closing the gap

Tyana Musrasrik, '18

Tyana Musrasrik, ’18

New advocate gives sexual assault survivors options

Privilege means more than special treatment for Tyana Musrasrik, ’18. In her new role as Privileged Campus Advocate at EOU, it signifies her ability to provide resources and services while keeping information confidential.

Musrasrik, who earned her degree in social welfare, has an on-campus office, but technically works for Shelter from the Storm, a domestic violence and sexual assault organization in Island City. She was an intern at the nonprofit last spring before applying for the full-time, grant-funded position.

Since starting the job last summer, she has spent most of her time raising awareness among student, faculty and staff.

“I want students, staff and faculty to know about and use these services, especially students because they’re often the most vulnerable population,” she said.

Colleen Dunne-Cascio, Title IX Coordinator at EOU, worked with Shelter from the Storm to secure funding from the Oregon Crime Victim and Survivor Services Division. The grant requires applicant institutions to partner with organizations that have a history of effective work concerning domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

PCA Quick factsThose who have been impacted by abuse can connect with the PCA and access services without the pressure of mandatory reporting or investigation. The PCA is a resource for students and employees to access without involving the Title IX Coordinator, who is required to report incidents and pursue investigations to their resolution. EOU joins many colleges across Oregon that have already initiated or will be initiating this program to close gaps and remove barriers to services.

“This position closes the gap,” Dunne-Cascio said. “All EOU staff and faculty members are considered ‘Responsible Employees’ and must report to Title IX, but sometimes survivors prefer a different first step.”

Musrasrik said the Title IX process can re-traumatize people and the results are often disappointing, especially when survivors aren’t clear on the extent of investigations required.

“Employees can refer students to me first so they can make an informed decision about when and whether to report through Title IX or access these resources confidentially,” she said.

Students and employees have access to safety planning, emotional support, emergency shelter, information and referrals, assistance with protective orders, escort to court or law enforcement interviews, transportation, gas vouchers, food boxes, clothing, legal representation, art therapy, 24-hour hotline and transitional housing.

Originally from the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, Musrasrik now considers Oregon her home. Starting the program from scratch has meant adapting existing practices to EOU’s rural environment.

“I can go to court or on-campus hearings with them, bring a detective here to my office, transport them to medical appointments, complete restraining orders right here,” she said. “It’s all in one place through one person so they don’t have to re-tell their story to strangers over and over again in places that can be intimidating.”

For more information and resources, contact Shelter from the Storm at 541-963-7226 or their crisis hotline at 541-963-9261.