The office of ASUC Senator Saakshi Goel and UC Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center were notified in late December that they will receive a Wellness Fund grant of $54,000 each year for the next two years to further their mission of providing support to survivors of sexual harassment or violence.
The money that the PATH to Care Center will receive will go toward hiring two new interns from the campus master of social welfare program and launching a marketing campaign in April to increase the center’s visibility.
Goel said in an email that her office applied for these funds in fall 2018 through the campus Wellness Fund, a program developed in 2015 that collects fee revenue and directs it exclusively toward wellness services at UC Berkeley. Originally, Goel said in an email that her office had applied for an $80,000 grant to hire three interns and fund marketing material, but she still considers the $54,000 a “huge win.”
Mari Knuth-Bouracee, director of the PATH to Care Center, said the grant will be used to expand services for survivors, particularly for survivors of color. The two new interns, to be hired at the end of summer, will provide one-on-one advocacy, crisis intervention services and outreach for survivors, working toward “making our community one that’s transformed and free of violence,” according to Knuth-Bouracee.
“I’m really very impressed with all the work students have done to pass the proposal,” Knuth-Bouracee said. “Students have been integral in the establishment of the PATH to Care Center.”
According to Goel, the “beauty” of the PATH to Care Center is that it is one of only five places on campus that provide completely confidential care. Goel said survivors of sexual harassment or violence often do not voice their experiences because any campus employee labeled a “responsible employee” — including academic advisers, administrators, athletic coaches, professors, resident assistants and several others — is required to report incidents of sexual assault or violence to the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.
Knuth-Bouracee said she knows how difficult it can be for individuals to come forward and seek support after violent situations, which is why some survivors find it “really comforting” to know the information they share with PATH employees will be private and confidential. The individual then has the freedom to decide whether or not to report an incident to the police or visit a hospital.
Goel pointed out that although she will be graduating this year, she is not worried about the longevity of this program. This grant may only provide funds for two years, but Goel said the survivor support will continue under “such a solid institution” as PATH to Care. Knuth-Bouracee added that the center will look for a more permanent source of funding when the time comes.
“My hope is that if something happens to someone on campus, they know where to go,” Goel said. “It’s so important that students know where to seek help.”