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The Story of a CARE Leader
WHAT IS CARE?
The Consent Advocates and Relationship Educators, CARE, is a peer education organization that works to confront rape culture and gender inequity on Harvard's campus. Through advocacy, outreach, workshops and planned programming, CARE tries to build a campus culture that is free from sexual violence, championing consent, healthy relationships and gender equity. CAREs complete 40 hours of training through a 12-week curriculum in the Spring and a three-day intensive training program during August to prepare them to effectively facilitate learning and growing among their peers on Harvard’s campus.
WHAT IS OSAPR?
CARE functions as a part of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. OSPAR is an administrative office that works directly with students and the Harvard community to eliminate harm and address violence and gender inequity on Harvard’s campus. OSPAR works as a community advocate and education pioneer, providing Harvard students and the greater institution with resources to create change and promote social justice. One is able to make an appointment with OSPAR or drop-in on Mondays- Fridays from 12-1 p.m. in order to discuss any issue regarding interpersonal harm or issues related to gender inequity and sexual violence. They are located at the Smith Campus Center, Suite 624 ready to work towards creating a more secure campus free of sexual violence and inequity.
When I was a Sophomore at Harvard, I read a piece by Audre Lorde titled “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.” In this work, Lorde explains that there are endless, “immobilizing,” “silences to be broken” and that women must come together and allow our voices to resound and create meaningful change and start imperative conversation (Lorde, 44). With the backdrop of the MeToo movement, Lorde’s words resonated with me greatly, sparking my interest in more deeply involving myself with women’s issues. As I searched through the organizations on Harvard’s campus, I came across CARE. CARE aligned perfectly with my interests and provided me a vehicle by which to create social change. This organization has now come to largely define my Harvard experience and my sense of leadership, service, and community on campus.
After being involved with CARE for a semester, I decided that I wanted to run for the Leadership Team, take on more responsibility and hopefully, make more of a difference within the organization and on campus. Last semester, I was elected to the Leadership Team as the Director of Community, the role in which I continue to serve. My main responsibilities include hosting socials for CARE members and organizing round-table dinner discussions to continue conversation surrounding sexual violence. Although each of the five directors has particular, outlined responsibilities associated with their specific role, the Leadership Team works as a cohesive whole to ensure the effective and successful operation of CARE. This includes attending and running weekly CARE meetings, attending weekly leadership meetings with our Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR) staff supervisors, facilitating workshops, attending all CARE related events and overseeing the recruitment process.
Although my position on the Leadership Team has been positive and transformative, there are many challenging aspects to the role. One of the main difficulties regards the partnership dynamics of CARE and OSAPR. Although our relationship is overall uplifting, genuine and advantageous, we face difficulties concerning the three key elements of capacity, communication and responsibility. As a result, I am going to investigate the following research question:
How can CARE and OSAPR optimize their partnership to further their overall mission?
As a result of this research, I plan to create a “Partnership Manifesto” that can act as a guiding framework and tool for CARE and OSAPR to build our relationship and establish institutional memory. Crafting equitable, mutual partnerships requires careful attention and thought. I hope that in addressing this question, I can gain a deeper insight into how CARE and OSPAR can work with one another to produce an optimal relationship that furthers our shared mission and vision.