Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer
President Sandy Pfeiffer decided to absorb the costs of the RISE Project into the Warren Wilson budget this Dec., and to make the RISE Project permanent. Pfeiffer added a permanent staff position for the RISE Project’s supervisor, Kelly Kelbel. Kelbel’s new contract has changed significantly from her previous, temporary contract from last semester. The new contract is reduced from twelve months to ten months. Also, according to the new contract, Kelbel must teach two classes and offer substance abuse counseling for faculty. The RISE Project was initially funded by a grant from the Justice Department, which expired in January and was not renewed.
RISE Crew member Chris Miller saidthat it is a big deal to get a new paid staff position right now, as many people are trying to get a contract. “The contract was a compromise, but it’s better than no RISE project,” he said. Right now, there are six members on the RISE Crew.
RISE stands for Resistance Intervention Safety Empowerment. “Their [crew members'] work depends on personal interest, as well as fulfilling the mission of the program,” said Kelbel. Students facilitate workshops and crew trainings, organize events, write and print different publications about healthy relationships and other topics, coordinate service opportunities, such as Room at the Inn, organize student volunteers, perform in skits and shows and offer support to students.
“Being on the RISE Crew is an ideal forum to challenge myself and work with great people on issues,” Miller said.
“The goal of this work is to raise awareness about sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, provide people with tools and information about safe consensual sexual experiences, communication, and healthy relationships, offer support and create a community where violence no longer happens,” Kelbel said.
“There has been a tremendous amount of support from students, staff, volunteers, and faculty,” Kelbel said.
“Support for the crew has been pretty even. There’s a lot of respect for the work we do, and Kelly does a lot, crew training, etc,” said Miller.
When asked why the RISE Crew is important for the Warren Wilson campus, Miller responded “we’re a small community, [But] we’re by no means isolated by the issues at large in society. Our education system doesn’t provide adequate knowledge on sexual health and sexual violence. It’s important work on a campus. I wish there were well-funded programs for this kind of thing elsewhere.”
Dean of Students Cathy Kramer feels strongly that the RISE Crew will continue to have a very positive effect on campus.
“It will result in greater awareness for students, faculty and staff around issues related to healthy relationships, consent, sexual assault and relationship violence,” Kramer said. “It will continue to be a resource for survivors and allow them to feel more supported on campus. It will increase the level of bystander intervention to prevent sexual assault, and finally it will increase the number of survivors of sexual assault and relations.”
“It’s jobs like her’s [Kelbel's] that make this a forward thinking campus,” Miller said.