by Erin Bergen
I am so excited to start working with you. I want you all to get a feel for what my position is going to be and how I can help with whatever your path looks like. I asked my lovely partner to interview me, because I suffer from chronic writer’s block.
Q: What’s your job?
EB: So I am the Student Advocacy Coordinator at Into Account. I love reading Title IX legislation and working with people to hold their administration accountable to ethical and legal standards. In my new role I will be working with individual students as well as student groups.
Q: Do the students contact you directly or are they referred?
EB: Both, and! I am hoping that students feel comfortable contacting me directly when they have questions or concerns about how they are being treated or are unsure what steps they should take. I understand that this will take trust and I am willing to put in the time and energy to build up these relationships. When students contact Stephanie or Hilary and they think I might be a good resource for those students, Stephanie and Hilary can also refer them to me.
I know of some student organizations that are already working on addressing gender violence on their campuses, so I plan on reaching out directly to them and seeing if there is any support they need from outside the campus community. When I was attending Goshen, I remember how important it was to me when people who were not students to take seriously the issues we were working on and show solidarity from the outside.
Q: If a student contacts you, what do you do?
EB: It depends on what the student needs. I want to start by figuring out with the student or students what their needs are and what sort of assistance they feel would be most helpful. For example, if a student does not know what their options are after an assault, I can help them figure out what their campus and broader community provides in terms of reporting and support. If students are meeting with faculty and administration, I will help get students the resources they need so that they will be prepared and can feel heard. If students are feeling that they are not being listened to, I am willing to advocate on their behalf. I don’t think it should be students’ job to feel like they have to fix their administration, but unfortunately that is where a lot of people feel they are stuck. I am here to help give people different ideas and resources, but also if they are being treated unfairly, I want to help them get out of those situations.
One of the reasons I wanted to join Into Account is because of the help they gave me while I was in college. I knew Jay and Stephanie before they founded Into Account and they were both invaluable to my own advocacy and activism. While I was working to file my own Title IX case against Goshen College, I would often just ask for reminders that I was not crazy. Those simple check-ins and reassurances made a world of difference for me. As Into Account’s reach grows, I hope that I can make sure that people are feeling this individual attention and care.
Q: Where did you learn how to do this?
I was originally trained in Title IX and student advocacy by Know Your IX, who taught me to look at compliance and best practice. From their training, I got a lot of resources and legislation to read through. I spent hundreds of hours on the elliptical at campus listening to Beyonce and reading through Title IX policy and procedure.
Q: Why is our dog so good?
EB: Good question, easy answer. She snuggles nice and catches her tail.
Q: When are you available?
EB: I have an email with Into Account that I will be checking frequently. If people contact me and prefer to use other methods of communication, I probably have access to it (except I don’t get what Slack is).
Q: Why do you want to do this?
EB: Because the way that I did advocacy and activism on my campus was incredibly draining and unsustainable. I am so lucky to have had friends and family who were there to encourage me and tell me when to take breaks. I want to help other people have the empowering aspects of activism without the trauma and burnout! I want people to be heard at every turn and to feel like their strength and bravery make a difference.