Hyannis House Provides Safe Harbor

By Emily Henderson, contributor

9/16/2015

Hyannis House officials opened the semester by inviting new and returning students to utilize their facility.

“The Hyannis House is a safe space and resource center for women, those affected by sexual violence, LGBTQ and allies,” said Jess Frayer, a senior psychology student and co-leader of SPEAK Up.

According to Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments Act, colleges and universities who receive federal funding are to combat gender-based violence and harassment, and respond to survivors’ needs, in order to ensure that all students have equal access to education.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one out of every 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college. The statistic is lower for men: one out of every 16 men.

    UNC Asheville funded Hyannis House to house organizations that included SPEAK Up and the Trans Student Union. This is the first women’s and LGBT+ resource center on campus. Student organizations such as SPEAK Up and Trans Student Union now have available office space.

Riley Howard, co-founder of the Trans Student Union, said they want the community to know their office is located at the Hyannis House. The house provides a safe place to learn, study, socialize and not be judged.

“The students who organized this event really have a story to tell,” said Karin Peterson, a sociology and anthropology professor attending the Hyannis House Lawn Party.

Students can come to Hyannis House if they have instances of gender discrimination, sexual assault or harassment, according to university data. Students staffing the house have campus safety and Title IX training in order to help students who come to them.

“When I found out about the Hyannis House, I went from feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere in college, to being able to create change and provide a safe space on campus,” said Howard.

Hyannis House is located at 24 Hyannis Drive, behind Owen Hall. A trail starts in P13 parking lot and leads to the house. Hyannis House is open Monday through Thursday noon- 6 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from noon- 4 p.m.

Howard said the Trans Student Union holds meetings every Saturday at noon.

“We have two-hour planning meetings every week. The first hour is a support group and the second hour is planning fundraisers and community outreach. The planning meetings are open to all students, but the support group is exclusively for transgender students,” Howard said.

SPEAK Up holds meetings every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“There is no space on campus where you can really be alone and be guaranteed that alone time. The Hyannis House has a special room reserved for students who need a safe space to be alone and have a private reaction to the things they are feeling,” Howard said.

According to Frayer, the creator of the Hyannis House Facebook page, this organization aims to foster inclusion and a culture of equality while providing resources, support networks and a space for community building events.

“There are libraries, brochures and handbooks as resources throughout the house,” Frayer said.

This is aside from other resources the staff at the Hyannis House can provide for students.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, less than 5 percent of victims report the incident to law enforcement.

“Surviving sexual assault made me realize I can use my experiences to help others and that is what I want to do with my life,” Howard said. “I’m changing things here on campus and it’s really made a difference about the way I see and feel about college.”

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