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

Students gather at Pentacrest to protest RVAP end

Many attendees shared their stories of how RVAP employees emotionally and financially helped them in times of need.
Ava Neumaier
Mandi Remington speaks during a protest on the Pentacrest about the University’s removal of RVAP, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

Over 80 people gathered in front of the Pentacrest Saturday to protest the University of Iowa’s decision to dissolve the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, or RVAP. 

The UI announced on April 4 that it would be moving RVAP resources and services to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, or DVIP, and some RVAP employees would be laid off in the transition.

RVAP offers a number of resources for individuals who have experienced sexual assault. Financial, legal, and academic support services are some of the resources RVAP provides, along with support groups and therapy. RVAP provides eight counties in Iowa with sexual assault support and services. 

Former RVAP employees, students, parents, and individuals who have used the organizations services gathered to support one another while voicing their disappointment with the UI’s sudden statement and depletion of sexual assault resources. 

Over 20 protest members took turns speaking about their own experiences with sexual assault. 

Many speakers ended their speech in tears and were greeted by a crowd who offered hugs and supportive cheering and clapping. 

The organizer of the protest, Olivia Brown, a third-year UI student and former RVAP employee, expressed their disappointment and anger at the UI’s decision. 

Brown said the decision to dissolve RVAP not only harms the lives of former employees but deeply affects the ability for sexual assault victims to find help and support on campus. 

According to a release from the UI, 12 former staff members will be laid off with the dissolving of RVAP. Brown said they were made aware of this through an email they received during class. Brown said they felt surprised and awful and described the abrupt layoff as harsh. 

“This organization is so much more about the support and services, but for a lot of people, this was how they paid their bills,” Brown said. “Not only are people losing their quality of life in the way of if they can pay for things but also if they need support for sexual assault.”

Brown said they felt like the UI should offer more sexual assault resources, as many sexual assault cases are reported through UI Hawk Alerts each year. According to a report from the UI, there were a total of 81 on-campus sex offenses in 2021.  

“We know students are getting assaulted. We know people in the community are getting assaulted,” Brown said. “Why are we getting rid of an organization that helps them?” 

Olivia Bishop, a first-year UI student, said they attended the protest to support the mission of RVAP. 

“Why I think we came to the school was because it is so surrounded in community. It’s one of the biggest values,” Bishop said. “And to support the community, we need to have resources for it. And so this is definitely a big one that affects a lot of people.”

Bishop said it is important to speak up and remind the UI that students benefit from RVAP resources. 

Em Koehler, a first-year student, said there is a stigma about speaking up about sexual assault-related topics. They feel like the UI is putting down student’s voices in a harmful way, but they feel as though there is still a lot of support from the community. 

“When the university like puts these sorts of things in motion, sometimes it’s nice to come here and see that there is a community of people who still are supportive,” Koehler said.

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About the Contributor
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.