AU sophomore creates sexual assault advocacy group “Elevate”


Retrieved from @ElevareAshland1

Elevate provides survivors of sexual violence a healing and supportive environment with a group of peers.

Leah Burtscher

While AU is working to better their response to issues regarding Title IX like with their pairing with Safe Haven of Ohio, some still believe that there is room for improvement. Sophomore history and political science major Reina Britt has taken matters into her own hands and created her sexual assault awareness group “Elevate” on campus.

Britt became a victim of sexual assault on campus in September 2019. After reporting the assault at the end of the fall semester, she was given an interview the first day on campus after winter break.

After the interview, she decided to conduct a formal investigation. The investigation lasted from January to June due to COVID issues and difficulties getting the man accused to meet.

“Throughout my entire experience, I really felt like I was a name on a piece of paper,” Britt said.

Britt believes that her case ruling does not match the information on the AU website.

According to the Title IX office, “Ashland University’s standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence. This means that, based upon the information provided in an investigation, it is ‘more likely than not’ that the behavior occurred.”

Britt took this as an opportunity to endorse change. Since her experience, she has taken it upon herself to create a safe place for victims and allies to meet.

The Elevate Facebook page about section read: “Elevate provides survivors of sexual violence a healing and supportive environment with a group of their peers. With group and one-on-one support, survivors can work through their trauma and make a lasting impact in the Ashland Community.”

Elevate had its first meeting on Sept. 4, and has many events planned throughout the National Domestic Violence Awareness month of October.

A candlelight vigil was held at Corner park on Oct. 5, and a zoom movie night, online book club discussion and survivor speakout are scheduled for Oct. 22, Oct. 26 and Oct. 28 respectively.

Britt believes that Ashland University needs to improve their Title IX process, and that the Safe Haven pairing is a good start.

“I truly felt that I had no control over the situation and there was little care to my well being aside from the fact that my advocate was absolutely wonderful,” Britt said. “This feeling comes from an institution that stresses that they are trying to be as victim-friendly as possible and I think that there needs to be much more talk on how to humanize these situations and really treat all survivors with kindness and compassion.”

Elevate is set to change the narrative of sexual assault on Ashland’s campus. Britt believes this is one of many steps in order to achieve a safer campus for AU students.

“I hope that Elevate is able to impact so many more people and give survivors a safe place to come, surrounded by their peers,” Britt said. “I know it has started making its mark but I really want it to be a resource people use when going through this process.”