Haven, Colgate’s sexual violence response center, held its first Walk-In hours on Friday, October 25, as October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The second round of Walk-In Hours were held on Friday, November 1, and the third is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 8 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Haven’s Walk-In Crisis hours welcome any student to drop in for counseling during the scheduled hours. With the implementation of Haven Walk-In Crisis hours, Haven’s staff, counselors and ambassadors are hoping to increase outreach and spread the word about Haven’s comprehensive services. According to Haven Program Coordinator Tracia Banuelos, Haven’s goal is to be a survivor-centered space, focused on changing the rhetoric around sexual violence and survivors.
“We’re trying to connect with survivors so that this is their space, and so that we can be their champions,” Banuelos said. “We believe you before you even walk through the door.”
Haven is a resource for student mental health and safety on Colgate’s campus. Opening in 2016, Haven is located on the garden level of Curtis Hall and provides confidential care, support, advocacy and trauma-informed clinical services for survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, child or family abuse, stalking and harassment.
Banuelos, who worked to schedule the Walk-In hours after years of student feedback, emphasized Haven’s accessibility made possible by the new Walk-In policy.
“Our counselors are ready to go for students as soon as they get here,” Banuelos said. “We want to show folks that we are accessible and that there is support that’s here that we’re ready to provide at any moment.”
During the Walk-In hours, counselors are available for 30-minute sessions with no appointment necessary. When students arrive at the Walk-In, they are checked in and given a form to provide the counselor with background information and a framework of the students’ support needs. After the 30-minute session with one of the counselors, students have the option to set up recurring appointments at Haven to continue receiving support.
Junior Estelle Kelty is a Student Ambassador for Haven. Kelty said that Haven is attempting to combat the anxiety that sometimes comes with scheduling an appointment.
“Scheduling a concrete appointment can be a daunting idea for
people that are struggling with some of the issues that would have them come in,” Kelty said. “Walk-In hours offer a little bit more flexibility, and are an open space where you can come to receive empathetic care for whatever you want to talk about.”
Banuelos explained that some students are hesitant to make a scheduled appointment and find it easier to drop in for an unscheduled session.
“[It can be] very difficult for folks to walk in and disclose some of the most intimate and horrific things that have happened to them,” Banuelos said. “Students have told me that it was really difficult to come the first time, but that once they do, the same thing I hear again and again is ‘I’m so happy that I came.’”
According to Banuelos, not only do the open hours offer students immediate and direct support, but they also can hopefully clarify the services that Haven provides. By getting students through the door for a quick counseling session, Banuelos and the Haven staff hope that more students will be aware of all of the services that Haven offers.
“Folks still aren’t exactly sure of what Haven is, what we do, and what we offer here,” Banuelos said.
Senior Eliza Judson believes that Haven plays an important role in fighting sexual assault on campus and providing support for survivors, but that its services are unknown to many students.
“I think the Walk-In hours could be really helpful for students who are struggling,” Judson said. “It’s a really important resource that so many people have no idea exists.”
According to Kelty, the news of the new open hours will help spread awareness about Haven.
“We had a lot more publicity and emphasis on these Walk-In hours to get the message of Haven as a resource across to students that wouldn’t otherwise know about it,” Kelty said.
Haven has a counselor-on-call 24/7 for students in crisis, as well as counselors available by appointment through the Counseling Center website or by phone. Haven’s next Walk-In hours are Friday, November 8 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-In hours will return in April to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness month. Students in need of support are encouraged to call Haven at 315-228-7385 to schedule an appointment with a counselor.