UISG supports RVAP by matching donations

In light of the UI Rape Victim Advocacy Program losing state funding, UISG plans to match $1,500 of donations.

Adam+Robinson%2C+Executive+Director+of+the+Rape+Victim+Advocacy+Program%2C+poses+for+a+portrait+outside+his+office+on+Wednesday%2C+August+30%2C+2017.+UISG+has+pledged+to+match+dollar+for+dollar+every+donation+made+to+RVAP+until+September+3.+%28Ben+Smith%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ben Smith

Adam Robinson, Executive Director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, poses for a portrait outside his office on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. UISG has pledged to match dollar for dollar every donation made to RVAP until September 3. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The University of Iowa Student Government announced earlier this week in a press release that it will match donations up to $1,500 to the Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

This comes after the organization was defunded by Iowa Legislature earlier this year.

RVAP Executive Director Adam Robinson said the program was started on campus 44 years ago with the mission of creating a community free from sexual violence.

“One of the things we know is sexual assault can affect anybody, at any time, from any walk of life,” Robinson said. “But a particular population that experiences an increased level of sexual assault is college-aged students.”

RVAP provides free services to sexual-assault victims and survivors, such as housing and transportation services, 24/7 in-person support, and a 24/7 crisis response hotline — known as the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline.

RVAP has grown extensively beyond campus since its creation. According to the press release, RVAP sexual-assault support and prevention education services are available throughout southeastern Iowa, and the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline is available state-wide.

On July 1, the Legislature dealt the program a funding cut of about $400,000 from the annual budget. This funding was previously directed at the 24-hour hotline.

RELATED: RVAP faces looming budget problems

“The immediate impact is more of a statewide impact, because the hotline is statewide,” Robinson said. “We’re still able to provide the 24-hour support on the hotline, but it’s impacted our ability to collaborate with other resources in the state.”

Hotline use has been growing in recent years, he said. This past year, the hotline took 3,000 calls, a 600 percent increase from a few years ago Robinson said.

“RVAP provides critical services to University of Iowa students and beyond,” UISG President Jacob Simpson said. “As the university’s student government, it’s a priority for us to ensure that we always work to eliminate sexual assault on campus.”

UISG plans to match the donations made to RVAP through GOLDrush, the university’s crowdfunding website for university-related projects and organizations.

UISG Vice President Lilián Sánchez, RVAP’s GOLDrush campaign was created largely by former UISG President Rachel Zuckerman. The campaign’s overall goal is $10,000; as of the time of publication, the campaign had raised approximately $11,200, which is 112 percent of the original goal.

UISG will match donations until Sept. 3 or until the limit of $1,500 is reached.

“We wanted to make sure we announced this donation matching initiative at an opportune time because of the urgency of the program and how much they need the funds,” Sánchez said.

Simpson said the matching effort is in coordination with It’s On Us, a national movement to end sexual assault that started in 2014. This week is the It’s On Us welcome week, making it an ideal time for UISG to support the campaign.

Sánchez said as of 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, around $900 had been donated since UISG announced its intention to match donations.

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