Delaney Anderson will start work as WISE campus advocate

by Amanda Zhou | 11/15/15 7:47pm

Delaney Anderson began working with survivors of sexual assault when she herself was in college. Since then, she has traveled from campus to campus to learn more about the overlap between college environments and sexual assault and to serve survivors. Now she has come to Dartmouth to serve as WISE campus advocate through a formal partnership that bridges WISE of the Upper Valley and Dartmouth students.

WISE is a crisis support, advocacy and prevention non-profit that services over 21 different towns in the Upper Valley. Following a formal partnership formed in May 2015, Delaney Anderson will connect WISE and the College.

“I love what I do, and I’m excited to be a part of the Dartmouth community and the different faculty, staff and students there,” Anderson said.

Dartmouth’s Title IX coordinator Heather Lindkvist said that finding a campus advocate had been a goal since she first arrived. She said she started talking with WISE executive director Peggy O’Neil in September 2014. Anderson’s position is a combination of a new position and a connection of resources.

“This is the first endeavor, and it’s important to be open to how the process will evolve,” Lindkvist said.

While some confidential counselors are only available to graduate and undergraduate students, Lindkvist said that Anderson’s position is to support all members of our community, including faculty and staff.

“She is not the end all, be all, of the community, but she’s an important conduit,” Lindkvist said, emphasizing other resources as well.

Anderson’s work in advocacy started when she joined a crisis hotline as an undergraduate student. When she went to graduate school for a master’s in social work, she did research on violence against women and learned how to be a victim advocate. Since then she has remained interested in the overlap of college campuses and gender-based violence.

Anderson said she feels fulfilled by working with individuals who have experienced sexual and dating violence and is interested in navigating the different processes available to them. She seeks to understand the different systems available and make them approachable for others.

“Working with college students is really enjoyable,” she said. “They have a lot of resilience which you get to see working with them in this field.”

Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies at Florida State University and Anderson’s former supervisor, said that Anderson is an “incredibly genuine person” who has been fully immersed in the word of trauma-informed care. Under Oehme, Anderson co-authored a paper on police officers’ perceptions of rape and campaigned for the University to hire more female security officers.

“When she’s advocating for students, she’s doing it through a trauma lens and she really understands the higher education system, which is incredibly important for WISE,” Oehme said.

Oehme also said Anderson cares about social justice and is a strong feminist, who believes that everybody deserves a voice. Oehme described Anderson as an “evenly heeled” person who was very mature in dealing with emotions.

“She likes working with students and she has strong personal advocacy skills and she’s compassionate,” Oehme said. “What’s great is that she can explain difficult concepts in simple and straightforward ways, and that’s kind of an art.”

Anderson represents a partnership between Dartmouth and WISE to strengthen the existing sexual assault framework on campus. WISE offers unique services apart from existing sexual assault resources on campuses. Until Anderson, Dartmouth did not have a campus advocate.

WISE director Kate Rohdenburg said that Dartmouth was taking advantage of an existing community by partnering with WISE.

“It’s helpful in separating out and creating some distance from the school, [since WISE is] not beholden to the campus system,” she said. “We can help them make decisions operating within and outside the campus system.”

WISE is able to provide outside confidentiality and is protected by federal mandates and statues. It is completely separate from Title IX and other federal requirements.

WISE also offers a support network outside of the Dartmouth community.

“When students graduate, they are already connected to community organization and not losing all the resources that went along with them being in school,” Rohdenburg said.

Previously, Anderson had worked in large universities and she said she looks forward to delving into a small community and examining how that relates to accessibility to sexual assault resources.

“I think every campus community has its own distinct campus culture, so I’m looking forward to learning more about Dartmouth,” she said.

As her first goal, Anderson said she wants to focus on student education on resources.

“Ultimately we want to increase knowledge and awareness of WISE services to faculty and staff since I’ll be there representing the organization — I think that’s a good first step,” she said. “Sometimes even when resources are available students don’t see it as often or don’t see it until they go looking for it.”

More specifically, Anderson hopes to improve prevention education through working with separate groups on campus.

Although transitioning to the culture and system of a new campus is difficult, Anderson said she is eager to take on the task.

“Any time you start someplace new, you don’t want to go in thinking you have this model that’s one-plan-fits all,” she said. “Every campus has a different culture, which is a challenge, but I think it’s an important one.”

She said she hopes to learn more about the college through meeting more students and learning more about the College’s policies and procedures.

Anderson will be holding office hours in 109 Fairbanks Hall and will have set hours on campus starting in the winter term.

As Title IX coordinator, Lindkvist said she will keep Anderson up to date resources and policy changes. Anderson will participate in community conversations about sexual assault and stalking and may also accompany Lindkvist to meetings.

Lindkvist participated in the interviewing process but WISE ultimately had the decision to hire Anderson.

From initial impressions Lindkvist said, “I find her incredibly grounded. She has an excellent grasp on navigating Title IX and learning processes in the college context.”

“She’s certainly got a knowledge base that will enhance advocacy on campus and how to support faculty and staff,” Lindkvist said.

Lindkvist also emphasized that WISE would bring a “team approach” to helping victims since if Anderson were not available, another WISE advocate could step in.