YWCA-Whitman partnership builds a safer community

YWCA Walla Walla has added not only a new advocate to our team but also a new position: Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocate for Whitman College. We welcome Hailey Powers, a recent M.A. in sociology graduate of the University of Chicago, who is uniquely qualified to fill this role.

Hailey’s master’s thesis focused on campus policies and procedures regarding sexual assault. And while earning her BA from the University of Montana­­–Missoula, she wrote her honors thesis about the rising number of sexual assaults (SA) that happened while she was a student and how the city’s police department investigative practices improved in response to the Department of Justice’s findings on the case.

“I care about campus safety because the community extends beyond campus lines,” Hailey said. “Students will be off campus soon and active participants in the larger society. Creating safe places of education contributes to a safer community.”

Having a victim’s advocate who operates independently of and is not employed by the college­­ is new for Whitman and removes any concern about a conflict of interest. It also ensures confidentiality in the advocate-victim relationship. Because Hailey is not a college employee, she is not subject to Title IX or the Clery Act, which requires colleges to report all campus crimes to the federal government and will not be required to report her conversation to anyone.

“Survivors have the right to seek help,” said Hailey, “even if they are scared, confused, or unsure. I want to be the safe place they can come to for compassion, support, and personalized help.”

Hailey will ensure survivors know about the resources available to assist them in recovery. As a support person, she may accompany a survivor to medical exams, to meetings with people on campus, such as the Title IX coordinator, and throughout an investigation process should one occur.

Her role is proposed to take a minimum of 20 hours a week, with the ability to adjust the time based on need. The rest of the week, she will be a domestic violence advocate at the YWCA, participating in the same duties as other advocates, and specializing in SA.
Originally from western Washington, Hailey was a member of the United States Pony Clubs for 15 years as a competitor and instructor. Her horse, Jake, currently lives in Ellensburg on a big farm with other horses. Other interests include playing and collecting board games, golfing, weightlifting, and reading.