The independent news organization of Duke University

Safe Haven seeks volunteers before it can re-open

Amidst growing concerns about campus safety, Safe Haven, a center on campus that offers drop-in service for students on Friday and Saturday nights, may not be open this weekend as leaders continue to recruit new staff. Safe Haven was also closed last weekend.

Safe Haven's locations on West and East Campuses each need at least two student volunteers to work each night, but leaders are still accepting applications for the positions and training is not until Sept. 14. The lack of trained volunteers and the possibility of a second-straight weekend with no operation comes during a week in which two students reported sexual assaults-one on West Campus and another off East Campus.

Safe Haven has been operating out of the Women's Center on West and the Wellness Center on East since 1992 and is one of the few of its kind in the country.

"If a student is feeling unsafe at a party, wants to wait for the bus or SafeRides, needs a place to sober up or simply needs to use a clean bathroom, they are welcome at Safe Haven," said Donna Lisker, director of the Women's Center.

Lisker estimated between 40 and 50 students each year use Safe Haven, which is open from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. She said, however, that reasons for using the facility fluctuate widely each year with the state of the on-campus social scene.

Safe Haven Coordinator Kelly Quirk, a junior, said about 80 student volunteers are needed each semester to maintain operations.

"Because it's a long shift, we try not to overburden our volunteers," Quirk said, adding that each volunteer is expected to work at Safe Haven two or three times each semester. If enough trained volunteers from past years can be found, she said the Safe Haven on West may be open tonight and tomorrow night.

Lisker noted that even though the service is unique to Duke and provides women a place to go if they are ever in trouble, it cannot be counted on as an integral part of the University's safety net.

If a student comes to Safe Haven for assistance following a sexual assault, for example, the volunteers on call will almost always immediately call the police department to report the incident and get the victim more professional help, Lisker said.

"Any time there is serious physical injury or fear of injury, obviously you would want to call 911," she said.

Quirk said the four-hour training session scheduled for next Saturday includes learning about what to do in such instances, what services Safe Haven offers, how to be an active listener, the absolute confidentiality policy and a presentation by Duke Emergency Medical Services.

Interested persons can turn in applications until Monday at the Women's Center. Both men and women may apply, although at least one woman must be on call at each location every night.

Comments