For my action research project, I examined the partnership of The Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR) and the Consent Advocate and Relationship Educators (CARE). In order to do this, I interviewed the four other members of the CARE Leadership Team and the two OSPAR staff supervisors to gain insight into each individual’s viewpoint on the partnership between CARE and OSPAR. Furthermore, I disseminated a survey to existing CARE members in order to also gain their perspective on the relationship of their leading bodies. As a result of the data that I have collected through interviews and surveys, I have gained a deeper understanding of the partnership between CARE and OSPAR, reflecting on ways in which to further maximize its incredible potential. I have created this Partnership Manifesto in order to outline the relationship, creating a guiding, living document that can support and structure the continuing partnership between CARE and OSPAR. I hope that this document can be used as a piece of institutional memory that can provide the foundation for a continuously growing relationship between CARE and OSPAR. In the future, I hope that this manifesto is added to and expanded as the partnership between CARE and OSAPR evolves and flourishes.
Although partnerships exist in multitude, each is incredibly unique, manifesting differently in practice. Through this Partnership Manifesto, I work to define this term in the context of CARE and OSAPR, exploring the norms, values, structures and processes that must be integrated into its fabric.
Norms and Values:
After having conversations with each of the CARE Leaders and each of the OSPAR supervisors, I found that each individual had overlapping definitions of partnership, including similar values and norms to guide optimal partnerships. These values also aligned as each individual emphasized the importance of our shared mission to create a safe and healthy campus at Harvard free of sexual violence. The following pillars seem to be paramount to achieving this goal.
Our Ten Pillars of Partnership:
Structures and Processes:
However, although these conceptions of partnerships greatly overlapped, putting such norms into practice is at times difficult. As a result, structures and processes must be put in place to help uphold these values and target areas in which CARE and OSAPR’s partnership can be further buttressed and maximized. The following structures and processes are crucial to embodying our Ten Pillars of Partnership and achieving our shared goals.
- Improve the communication between the CARE Leadership Team and OSPAR
- Action: Use channels such as GroupMe and Slack, rather than just email, to better our communication, create shared documents outlining agendas for meetings, create shared calendar
- Set expectations at the beginning of the semester in order to ensure that all parties understand their expectations
- Action: Pre-Semester Retreat: Set aside a day before the semester begins to brainstorm, set goals and outline expectations for the semester
- Divide responsibilities clearly
- Action: Creation of a shared document outlining the exact roles and responsibilities of each CARE member and the OSPAR supervisors
Key Areas for Holistic Improvement:
In addition to defining the norms, values, structures and processes that must be a part of CARE and OSPAR’s relationship, this action research also elucidated areas in which CARE as a whole can improve to further its effectiveness and impact in the greater Harvard community. As a result, the following are recommendations for future action that can be taken by CARE and OSAPR to achieve more.
- Engaged Membership
- Provide more responsibilities to members in order to improve their involvement
- Host town halls that allow CARE members to discuss points of interest with OSAPR staff and CARE leaders
- Expanding Programming
- Use the new structures and processes to implement more programming that moves beyond peer-education and allows CARE to further immerse itself into the Harvard community
- Creating processes and structures by which CARE can more directly engage with the work done by OSPAR. This could include CARE Leaders or CARE members attending staff meeting in OSPAR monthly
- Continuing Education
- Create spaces in which CAREs can continued to be trained and learn about issues regarding gender inequity and sexual violence. Although CAREs are trained intensively by OSPAR before beginning their peer-education work, continued education is important
Although it is difficult to measure the progress of this partnership as it expands and evolves, the results of CARE and OSPAR’s work will be indicative of its functioning. Hopefully this document will allow for the work of CARE and OSAPR to be maximized and to advance, solidifying a foundation by which the partnership can be built.