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Organization helps survivors Thrive

Student creates organization to collect stories and data about sexual assault on campus
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On February 3, Katrina Vogan handed out flyers with graphics in English, Chinese, and Korean at the Harvest Noon Café.

The physics and literature student was promoting Thrive, an organization that she recently founded with a twofold aim: to share the stories of sexual assault survivors and to gather data for a report that will hopefully result in an administrative policy review.

Thrive is running an online campaign — the “And Then” project — in the form of what Vogan calls illustrated interviews.

Vogan interviewed survivors of sexual assault and asked how U of T helped them after they were sexually assaulted. She then used graphics to create shareable images of their stories. “When I was talking to people about this issue, people who had experienced it, there was this sense that they weren’t being heard,” Vogan says. “They were speaking and speaking but no-one was listening. So I started it in part because I wanted them to be heard.”

“It’s moving — it really hits you because it could be someone you know and you would have no idea. It’s a wake up call that something needs to change,” says Jasmine Denike, a fourth-year English student and volunteer with Thrive.
From there, Vogan began research on campus services because she wanted to get an idea of where people were going when they needed help. She notes a lack of holistic services — services that take into account a person’s intersecting identities and that address a student’s whole being.

Thrive is administering a survey, in which students take 5–10 minutes to rate their experiences and perceptions of campus services such as Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Community Safety Office, and Campus Police.

In the first 24 hours, Vogan says she received over 50 survey responses.

Vogan says she intends to produce a report, which she says will likely be illustrated in much the same way as the stories in the “And Then” project.

Although Vogan describes Thrive as a reactive service, she hopes to see changes in policy and in attitude. Then, she says, Thrive can become a proactive resource with prevention and education goals.

When asked about the goals of Thrive, Vogan says that she never wants students to seek help in vain. “Ideally, I never want to hear someone tell me ‘I went to get help and I was turned away.’ I don’t want to hear that ever again.”

Editor’s Note: Katrina Vogan was The Varsity’s 2013-2014 science editor.