Strengthening Support & Awareness for Survivors on Campus

by: Kiara Nicholson | HCWC Primary Prevention Coordinator

Starting with a vision for better services for survivors on the Texas State University campus, the Bobcat REACH Project has grown into a collaboration between campus and community partners to prevent violence and streamline services for survivors of abuse.

Project Vision

Bobcat REACH – which stands for Response, Education, Awareness, Care, and Healing – focuses on increasing services for student survivors on campus and expanding prevention and awareness programming. Funded through a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, the Bobcat REACH Project grew from a vision that started with two counseling professors at Texas State into a partnership between HCWC, the San Marcos and University Police Departments, and various student-serving entities on campus to address sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on campus and in the community.

Through campus climate surveys, students have expressed a desire for more resources for student survivors, more trauma-informed faculty and staff, and more education for the campus community on issues related to assault and abuse. While currently students are able to find support through the Title IX office and Texas State Counseling Center, Bobcat REACH seeks to address their concerns and expand resources through a dedicated victim advocate and counselors to support students that have experience assault and abuse. Additionally, the project aims to expand trauma-informed training for staff and community partners involved in victim services and disciplinary processes for perpetrators. Recognizing that violence and abuse thrive in silence, this project strengthens campus and community connections so that student survivors can trust that they will be listened to, believed, and supported.

In addition to improving services for survivors, Bobcat REACH looks to create new opportunities to engage students in awareness and prevention education. Throughout the past year, HCWC’s Education Team has been working with campus partners in Health Promotion Services to create programming to teach students how to recognize harassment and abuse, as well as empower them with skills to intervene when they witness violence so they can become better bystanders and change campus culture. With a campus population of over 30,000 students, the first stages of programming will focus on working with groups with a large social influence on campus – students in Greek life – and expand to other students in the future.

“HCWC serves a significant number of students, and our aim is to support the university in getting the best services to those students. Our role has been to serve on the planning committee and offer our insight and experience in providing services to victims of sexual assault and dating violence.”

– Melissa Rodriguez | HCWC Chief Executive Officer –

Looking to the Future

As a multi-year project, Bobcat REACH is moving through the initial phases of planning and into implementation. Campus and community partners meet regularly during Campus Community Response Team meetings to discuss next steps in services and training. Looking to the future, the project will continue developing a plan for an HCWC campus advocate, create ongoing trainings for university staff and community partners, and educate more students through prevention education programming. Bridging the gap between campus and community, Bobcat REACH aims to further our goal of empowering survivors together and creating communities without violence and abuse.