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CASA Member Spotlight: Get to know the Phoenix Center at Auraria

By Jenn Doe, CCASA Guest Blogger

When I first became involved in anti-violence work, about 5 years ago, I learned about some of the great organizations in Colorado who provide education on preventing interpersonal violence. As a survivor of domestic and sexual violence in my late teens and early twenties, I had come to understand how important this proactive work could be. I learned after years of abuse and trauma that love was not supposed to hurt and that I had a right to make decisions about my body and my life. This seems like common sense to me now, but as a young adult, I was not having conversations about consent or healthy relationships and didn’t recognize the warning signs until it was too late. This understanding led me to dedicate my life to helping other young people avoid going through what I had, so I began working toward a career in violence prevention education.

When I went back to school, to work toward my Master’s Degree at CU Denver (UCD), I learned about the Phoenix Center at Auraria (PCA). The PCA is a resource on the Auraria campus working to end interpersonal violence through prevention, awareness, and support services. I learned about the Violence Prevention Peer Education (VPE) program and knew right away that I had to become involved, so I applied to become a peer educator and joined the team in the fall of 2012. I had never expected to enjoy speaking in public about such difficult topics as consent or power and control, but I quickly found that I felt at home and fell in love with the work. I loved the challenge of engaging in heated dialogue with my peers about these topics and thrived on the feeling that I received when I knew I had reached someone.

At the end of my first academic year, the PCA went through a period of transition within our staff and I was able to step into a leadership position as a graduate assistant. I began developing and updating our curricula and helped to hire and train our new team of peer educators for the 2013-14 school year. During that year, I was responsible for coordinating and scheduling workshops, and provided supervision to our team. This role really helped me see what the needs of this community looked like and one of the gaps that came to my attention was that online students were not getting the same information that other students received in the classroom. Since Auraria is a commuter campus, this was a large part of the campus population that we weren’t reaching and I had faculty members requesting access to online training that would complement our in-person workshops, so I started trying to figure out how to make this happen.

I finished my Master’s in May of 2014 and was able to stay with the PCA as the full time Violence Prevention Education Coordinator. With the increased focus around Title IX compliance on college campuses, there were many companies trying to market online training modules for incoming freshman. After reviewing several of these modules—all of which had their own strengths, weaknesses, and price tags—I determined that we already had the content and expertise to develop an online training, and that it would benefit our student body to create something that reflected the same messaging we were already providing on campus. Since the Auraria campus is somewhat non-traditional in that we don’t have Greek or residential life, our students needed something that would speak to them.

So, I began talking with IT and soon found out that I could create a training that could be housed within the learning management systems used by each school on campus. With the help of a small committee of dedicated experts, I outlined what this training needed to look like and started developing the content to include basic information about interpersonal violence, with a focus on consent and bystander intervention. I knew a bit about web design and online tools, but this was something I had never done before and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. But, after months of revisions, testing, and technical difficulties, this training was complete and it will be available to students on the Auraria campus beginning this fall.

I was glad to have the opportunity to take on this project, as challenging as it was, and I look forward to seeing the impact that it will have on the Auraria campus and beyond. Being recognized with the Innovative Practices Award for my work on this project is just the icing on the cake—preventing interpersonal violence is the real treat.



Jenn Doe is the Violence Prevention Education Coordinator for The Phoenix Center at Auraria. She is the 2015 recipient of CCASA’s Innovative Practices Award.

Image Credit: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/SPA/researchandoutreach/CenteronDomesticViolence/About/PublishingImages/New%20PCA%20Logo%202014.jpg

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