Photo: Alex Petersen

Western is beginning a new support group program centered around sexual assault. The group will meet on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. in Crystal Hall 104 (the campus counseling center). The first meeting will take place this upcoming Wednesday, April 27. The group’s goal is “to support people that have experienced and or been impacted by sexual assault.”

Naiya Budler, a Western senior and the Lead Peer Health Educator, notes that the group will be co-facilitated by a local advocate from Project Hope and a mental health professional from the Center for Mental Health (CMH).

“I brought this [program] together after some students approached me and told me they wanted support in this area but didn’t feel comfortable attending one on one counseling,” says Budler via email. “This has been a long time coming. There used to be a similar group on campus but COVID put an end to that and [so] we have made some alterations and are happy to have it back on campus!”

Budler says the program will be slated to continue come the Fall 2022 semester, although some changes can be expected as the university’s counseling center switches from CMH to Gunnison Valley Health (GVH). “We are dedicated to making sure these resources are available and that students feel supported and comfortable,” adds Budler. 

“Students can expect a safe space to talk about experiences, learn about resources on and off of campus, discuss helpful tips and tools for healing from sexual assault and be supported in their journey,” she notes, adding that Project Hope is also present in the counseling center every Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. to discuss sexual assault, domestic violence, and healthy relationships.