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Welcoming Belinda Karsen to SFU Surrey
This fall at SFU Surrey, we’re grateful that SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office (SVSPO) will be joining us on campus. Belinda Karsen (she/her/hers), who joined the SVSPO team in July 2020, will be working part-time out of the Surrey campus as the Educational Specialist, Sexual Violence Prevention. We caught up with Belinda to learn more about who she is, the services SVSPO will be able to offer to our community, and why she’s excited to be at SFU Surrey:
Belinda, welcome to SFU! Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and your background?
I started with the SVSPO in July of 2020 as the Educational Specialist, Sexual Violence Prevention. Prior to coming to SFU, I spent four and a half years at the University of the Fraser Valley. I was initially hired as a New Student Orientation coordinator. Over four years, more of my portfolio became developing UFV’s sexualized violence prevention program, which involved designing and coordinating a suite of peer-facilitated workshops.
Before moving into student affairs, I spent a long time as a grad student. I did a Masters in English at York University, and then went on to do the better part of a Ph.D in English. I’m currently A.B.D. and probably will be for some time!
For those who may not know, what does the SVSPO do?
There are two branches of the SVSPO: support and education. We have two case managers who provide free, confidential support to the SFU and FIC communities across all campuses. The case managers can provide personal support, refer clients to other campus support services, and walk clients through reporting options if needed. They can also provide advice to people who have received a disclosure or who are supporting someone who has experienced sexual violence. Currently, with COVID-19, our case managers are still connecting with folks virtually.
We also have the educational component, which focuses on education and outreach for different members of the SFU and FIC community. Many of our workshops focus on issues such as consent, healthy relationships, active bystander intervention, and responding to disclosures. The SVSPO can also develop customized trainings or workshops based on the needs that have been identified by a specific department or group. In addition to workshops, the SVSPO spearheads two awareness campaigns: Consent Matters, which takes place in September and May, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in January. We also offer volunteer opportunities for students with the Active Bystander Network, and we’re developing a sexual violence awareness certificate program for staff and faculty.
In your role as an Educational Specialist for the SVSPO, what will you be doing?
My colleague Paola Quiros and I share the education and outreach portfolio. Where Paola works with students, my focus is more on staff, faculty, TAs and TMs – anyone who is an employee of SFU or FIC. For at least 50% of my time, I’m excited to be based at the Surrey campus! The details around when I’ll be at Surrey and where I’ll be located are still in the works.
Once I start working on campus, I will be facilitating connections, developing relationships and learning how I can support the different departments, whether it’s employees or students. I think my main function is to be an ambassador for the SVSPO here at Surrey, and as time goes on, I would be prepared for folks to come to me if they wanted to find out more about the SVSPO, disclose, or seek advice on how to support someone who has disclosed to them. So this Fall will be a lot of getting to know the campus, and then determining if there are specific needs that I can respond to and developing workshops or outreach opportunities specifically for the Surrey campus community.
What excites you about the Surrey campus community?
I think it’s really exciting where the Surrey campus is situated. There are porous boundaries between the campus and the community and great potential for what those boundaries will allow in terms of community engagement. In particular, I’m excited for what those partnerships could look like, specifically for issues around sexual violence. It’s really important to have that coordinated support system between campus services and community services like the Surrey Women’s Centre and NEVR (the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships)
The other thing I’m looking forward to is the close-knit campus community. I’ve been told that I’ll also get to interact with students more frequently than if I were at the Burnaby campus, which brings me such joy! I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with everyone at Surrey.
How can folks get in touch with you if they want to learn more, or get to know you and the SVSPO better?
Folks can go to the SVSPO website, which features our blog as well as other resources and information. We also just launched our Facebook and Instagram channels, so be sure to follow those for updates and information on upcoming events.
If people want to get in touch with me, they can email me at email@example.com or they can call or text me at 236-833-7289. All of our information can be found on the SVSPO website, under “Contact Us”.