JMU has dozens and dozens of clubs and organizations for every major and every kind of person. While most of my friends have joined multiple organizations, everyone seems to have a club that holds a special place in their heart. For me, that club is CARE.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Campus Assault ResponsE (CARE). It’s on the back of your JACard, sandwiched between SafeRides and the JMU Police. But you might also have no idea what “Campus Assault Response” means, or what we do for the JMU community.
CARE is a student run, 24/7 sexual assault hotline, the only one of its kind in Virginia. We take calls not only from primary survivors, but also people like their friends, families, RA’s, faculty and roommates. Our job is to simply be a listening ear, with no judgment. Occasionally we may also answer questions about the JMU judicial process, the Harrisonburg Police, counseling or Title IX. We also run programs, speak at panels, co-sponsor events and give presentations to various dorms and groups across campus.
Running a survivor advocate hotline is no laughing matter, and members of CARE go through a two-weekend training seminar before they’re allowed to volunteer. Sound like joining would be overwhelming? Honestly, it can be. But it can also be rewarding, in an indescribable kind of way.
I went to my first CARE meeting because I care about sexual assault on college campuses, an issue every university across the country grapples with, and because my roommate dragged me along at the beginning of the school year. But I stayed in CARE because it was nothing like I’d ever been part of before. CARE is a family within JMU’s close-knit community.
At first, training seemed like a chore, but the truth is, it has been one of my favorite experiences at college so far. It covered the kind of discussions we to tend to avoid in our teens; everything from active listening to red flags in domestic abuse. These kinds of conversations won’t stop after college is over. I’ll be using skills CARE teaches for the remainder of my life.
So my advice to you is this: if you’re interested in advocating for survivors of sexual assault, consider coming to CARE. If you want to find a community without judgment, come to CARE. And whether you don’t care about either of these things, still consider going through training sometime before you graduate. Training is about more than sexual assault, but also active listening, consent, and how to see past your own biases.
You can call CARE anytime JMU is in session, at (540)568-6411.
For more information on training, you can email CARE president Charity O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on CARE, like the JMU Care Facebook Page.