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  • Christine Clark

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  • Christine Clark

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Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

UC San Diego's Sexual Assault Resource Center Turns 30

Campus to commemorate its leadership in taking proactive measures to ensure health and safety of students

The subject of sexual violence and sexual assault prevention is a matter of national importance, and it has been at the core of the work of UC San Diego’s sexual assault resource center, CARE at SARC, for decades. This year, the program is recognizing its 30th anniversary with events and campaigns that highlight UC San Diego’s pioneering history of providing support services and prevention education for campus sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. Events will include a “Before #MeToo: the History of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at UC San Diego” panel discussion in the Price Center on March 1, Sexual Assault Awareness Month events in April, as well as a campus-wide reception on May 18.

Formerly known as the Sexual Assault Resource Center, or SARC, the center was renamed CARE (Campus, Advocacy, Resources and Education) at SARC in 2015, in response to a call to action from University of California President Janet Napolitano to have a system-wide consistent model for the prevention and response to sexual assault and violence. That same year, CARE expanded its services for response and advocacy to faculty and staff.

“We are very proud of the work and years of service that CARE at SARC has provided to the campus community since its inception three decades ago,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “This anniversary marks a celebration, acknowledgement and reaffirmation that UC San Diego is dedicated to creating a safe and respectful campus community with the highest standards of sexual assault and sexual violence prevention and response.”

The resource center serves as the primary point of contact for victims and survivors of sexual violence who need advocacy, support services and/or assistance. All members of the university community who receive information or reports from victims/survivors are encouraged to take proactive steps to refer individuals to the CARE at SARC office.

Through its services, the center has transformed the lives of many, and aided survivors of sexual assault in their recovery.

“It’s been 10 years since the day of my assault,” said Esther, a survivor and former CARE at SARC client. “I am now married to the most wonderful, supportive man, and we have a beautiful 1-year-old daughter—and I think back on how much healing and comfort the program director, Nancy Wahlig, and the entire CARE at SARC team provided. I would never have become the person I am today without them. I am so grateful to them for the impact they have made on my life, and I am grateful that the team is there for others who need them.”

A brief history of CARE at SARC

Under the leadership of Nancy Wahlig, who has been director of CARE at SARC since the program’s inception, the center has received about $1.3 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education and private donations. The funds have helped the campus become a leader in taking proactive measures that ensure the health and safety of students.

The launch of the program came from a group of dedicated staff and students who had been advocating for rape prevention education and victim services as early as 1979. Initially named “Student Safety Awareness Program,” the department was established with one professional staff member and two student interns. It was one of the first holistic and stand-alone campus victim services programs within the UC system.

“We continue to seek out new and innovative ways to prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual assault,” said Wahlig. “For our anniversary, we want to convey how CARE at SARC has been and always will be dedicated to creating a safe and respectful UC San Diego community. We envision a world free of violence and will continue to provide policy development, education and support services to help make this vision a reality.”

Wahlig has more than 30 years of experience working with victims of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. She leads a team of professionals whose work at UC San Diego includes providing survivor counseling and advocacy, writing and directing departmental grants, and leading sexual assault survivor support groups, as well as training police, faculty and staff on issues relating to sexual and dating violence and more.

Making a positive impact across the UC San Diego campus and UC system

CARE at SARC has also positively affected the lives of student staff members who have gained valuable experience through their work.

Jeremy Carrion, a former student staff member who now works in the music and entertainment industry, added, “I can without a doubt say that my time at CARE at SARC helped push, motivate and inspire me to strive for more during my time at UC San Diego and helped develop the confidence I have now to pursue my future goals.”

Details on CARE at SARC’s 30th Anniversary are below. For more information, click here.

Before #MeToo: the History of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at UC San Diego, March 1, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Price Center East Ballroom: Campus sexual assault has been a frequent topic in the national consciousness during the past few years. Before the 2015 film “The Hunting Ground” and social media campaigns such as #MeToo, dedicated UC San Diego students and staff had the foresight to establish a sexual assault prevention program 30 years ago. The campus community is invited to join staff from CARE at SARC for a conversation about the grassroots activists who built the foundation for sexual assault prevention and support services at UC San Diego. Panelists include students and staff from the original UC San Diego Rape Prevention Education workgroup and founding staff members of CARE at SARC. Click here to register.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month, throughout the month of April, various times and locations: April has been designated as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise awareness of sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. The annual commemoration of SAAM at UC San Diego includes events such as the National Day of Action, Denim Day, the Circle of Truth and more.

Celebrating CARE at SARC, May 18, noon to 1 p.m., Student Services Center, Fifth Floor. CARE at SARC will be hosting a fun, “birthday celebration” with a reception and cupcake giveaway recognizing 30 years of support, advocacy and education at UC San Diego.

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