The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

RVAP faces looming budget problems

The UI’s Rape Victim Advocacy Program faces possible substantial budget cuts.

By Sarah Stortz

[email protected]

An article from The Hill reported last month that President DonaldTrump wishes to cut funding for 25 grant programs in the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.

The University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program faces a similar threat from state lawmakers.

The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee is considering cutting $3 million from victim-services funding in the next year. In total, this would cut around 45 percent of that funding.

RVAP Director Adam Robinson said the budget cut could cause drastic changes in how the organization operates.

“Colleges that receive age-appropriate training wouldn’t have that anymore,” he said. “All of those confidential services would end, such as our crisis hotline, which double as the state line. The population would become more vulnerable.”

RVAP volunteer-coordinator Sarah Murray said any type of deduction would have a strong effect on the organization.

“Those services agencies are heavily funded by this,” she said. “A few years ago, we went through a restructuring system, so we’ve already hit the bottom of the barrel. Any cuts will be substantial.”

This has caused concern from other similar groups in Iowa as well.

Beth Barnhill, the executive director for the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the organization could go backwards in many aspects if this budget cut occurs.

“Our workers in all other counties can drive to victims’ home,” she said. “I’m afraid we won’t be able to do this anymore if we get the budget cut.”

Robinson said he feels strongly about the budget cut because it could interfere with the importance of helping sexual assault survivors.

“Sexual violence is an epidemic, it’s a human-rights issue,” he said. “As a society, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our voice is always heard. We’re trying to heal and not go backwards. This is not the Iowa we know. Survivors deserve better.”

In an attempt to save the funding, protesters came together in Des Moines to show their disapproval of the cut in front of the State Capitol on Monday.

Members from IowaCASA lobbied in Des Moines by putting on a “Day at the Capitol,” where they spoke with elected officials on the issue.

Britt Griffin, a community prevention coordinator for the RVAP, said going out to protest in an essential part of the organization.

“Activism, to me, is part of our roots as a victim service agency advocate,” she said. “The RVAP came out of the Women’s Resource and Action Center, and that came back from protesting in the ’70s. It’s a strong tradition being able to speak out and be activists the way that people did when they marched back then.”

Griffin said she is against these proposed budget cuts because of recent political scandals regarding sexual assault.

“I feel really strongly about this because after the election, we had our president excusing away admissions of sexual assault behavior as ‘locker room talk’ and saying that women could be too unattractive to be sexually assaulted,” she said. “This is an attack on survivors of sexual assault on our surfaces. It’s not creating a place where survivors could feel safe.”

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