SAPA event informs interested students about advocacy

Sexual Aggression Peer Advocate members talk about their experience at the Meet the SAPAs event on Nov. 5 in the Bovee University Center Lakeshore Room.

A panel of Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates (SAPA) spoke to a group of interested students about the trials and triumphs of being an advocate against sexual aggression at the Meet the SAPAs event on Nov. 5 in the Bovee University Center Lakeshore Room.

Students who attended the event were welcomed to eat pizza and voice their questions and concerns about joining the program to the panelists. The panel talked about the best parts of being a  SAPA member, the hardest parts and what it takes to become an advocate. 

SAPA is a part of Central Michigan University’s Department of Sexual Aggression Services, and is made up of students who act as advocates for victims of sexual aggression. They do this by putting on educational programs across campus, helping connect students to resources and by operating a 24/7 confidential crisis hotline.

Members take shifts operating the crisis line with someone on call at all times. The line consists of a flip-phone and a device connected to SAPA’s chatline. Students who are on call carry both devices with them and carry about their day as usual until they need to respond to a call or message.

To become part of the team, students must pass a 15-minute interview process with members of the Sexual Aggression Services Administration at CMU, followed by a 90-minute interview process with several students who are on the SAPA team.

“(The 90-minute interview) is not like a formal job interview,” Bridgman junior and SAPA member CJ Russell said. “It’s more like a conversation.”

Students who pass the interviewing process must complete 52 hours of training before they can become an advocate.

“It sounds like a lot, but it flies by so quickly it doesn’t feel like it,” Russell said.

The panelists agreed that being an advocate was time consuming, but also extremely rewarding for students who have an interest or a passion.

“You don’t really need any prior knowledge of SAPA issues, so don’t let that stop you,” said Clarkston senior and advocate Hunter McLaren. “The only thing we ask is that you are passionate about the issues.”  

Illinois senior and SAPA member Aaron McGavin said that students who are passionate about being an advocate shouldn’t be nervous about how they’ll do once they start taking calls on the crisis line.

“When you’re on call, that (passion) will be the part that comes out of you,” McGavin said. “You will handle the situation.”

Applications to join SAPA are due Feb. 22 in a sealed envelope to the Office of Student Affairs in Ronan Hall room 290.  Applications may also be submitted electronically via email to