Aurora Center likely to get full fees funds

This is the first time the center has requested student services fees funding.

Cali Owings

Unable to rely on continued support from the Office for Student Affairs and federal grants, The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education instead requested funding from the Student Services Fees Committee for the next two years.

In the committeeâÄôs initial recommendations, the Aurora Center was granted $238,266 âÄî its full request for 2011-12.

It was also recommended to receive $243,031 the following year. The final recommendations will be announced in late March.

As an administrative unit like Boynton Health Service and The Department of Recreational Sports, the Aurora CenterâÄôs request was reviewed by a smaller subcommittee of the SSFC. Six of the eight administrative units seeking funding were recommended 100 percent of their request. The only two groups for which the committee recommended less than full funding were Radio K and the Minnesota Daily.

In its rationale for the recommendations, the committee stated that it agreed to fund the request because the Aurora Center provides vital services to students on campus dealing with âÄúvulnerable situations and in need of sensitive support.âÄù

During the public hearing with the committee Monday, several representatives from the Aurora Center thanked the committee for allowing them to continue providing this service.

However, some speakers suggested that the Aurora Center was being handed off to the fees committee because it wasnâÄôt a priority for OSA.

The group has relied on a large federal grant for the past 10 years, but the amount of the grant was steadily decreasing, OSA Chief of Staff Amelious Whyte said.

The office has been able to provide partial funding for the center through relationships with TCF Bank and Coca-Cola, Whyte said. But that funding is not sustainable, because they canâÄôt guarantee that money every year.

The Aurora Center would prefer to use the grants for new and different programs, rather than sustaining day-to-day operations.

Whyte said Vice Provost Jerry Rinehart encouraged the Aurora Center to seek funding through the fees process as one of its options.

With the highly publicized sexual assaults that occurred on campus last fall âÄî and those that werenâÄôt publically announced âÄîWhyte said the Aurora Center is a key resource.

When something bad happens, Whyte said they can make sure students donâÄôt suffer any more than they already have by not completing their degree or dropping out of school.

If it didnâÄôt end up receiving student services fees, Whyte said there would still be an Aurora Center.

âÄúI think if they didnâÄôt have the funding, it would be a dramatically scaled down version of what we offer now,âÄù he said.

The Aurora Center provides counseling and advocacy for victims of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, whether they are students, staff or faculty. Student volunteers are trained to provide a variety of services for victims and respond to their 24-hour emergency hotline.

Samantha Juve, an advocate who spoke during the hearing, said the center receives more than 300 calls on the helpline each year.

At the victimâÄôs request, advocates can help:

âÄîFile a police report

âÄîObtain a restraining order or order of protection

âÄîNotify professors should the situation affect academic work

âÄîProvide support during emergency medical exams

âÄîArrange for alternate safe housing

The organization also provides outreach programs to educate the community about sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.

The center reached more than 2,600 students, staff and faculty with more than 80 educational presentations in 2009, according to its annual report.