When a university experiences bad press, lines for communication and assistance need to be open 24/7 to be sure that concerned students and faculty can be connected with the proper personnel immediately.
But, for a Boston University (BU) student named Allison Francis, this was not the case. In the past few months, BU has been the location of two instances of reported sexual assault, allegedly perpetrated by two different members of the school's hockey team.
After the most recent charges were brought against BU hockey defenseman Max Nicastro for allegedly raping a female student, Francis decided to call BU's after-hours Student Health Services Crisis hotline. However, when she asked what assistance could be provided for a rape or sexual assault victim, she was prompted to call a different number, ultimately leading her back to the first hotline that was of no help.
"It was a useless loop of automated menus that provide no real resources or response to sexual assault," Francis wrote in a post on Facebook. "Boston University has neither an emergency support system for victims of sexual assault nor staff members trained in responding to rape crisis situations."
Considering how vulnerable students and faculty may feel in the wake of such serious assault allegations, universities everywhere should consider the benefits of outsourcing crisis queries to a certified third-party answering service.
When hiring these professionals, adaptable service representatives can be trained to first inquire as to the caller's well-being, and be sure that the person's concern is relayed to the appropriate party immediately.
Moreover, with the student population so involved with technology, an answering service could also field concerns through text messaging and e-mail so that an assault victim or someone looking for information can get the answers and assistance needed through whatever medium is most convenient.