This academic year, in one of the busiest parts of campus, students may notice a non-intrusive blue bench at the end of the bridge hallway near the north end of the Driscoll Student Center. With minimal explanation to its purpose, those who may consider taking a second glance at the seat will notice a sign with The Blue Bench organization’s logo, their slogan, “Putting an end to sexual assault through prevention and care” and their website and the phone number to their 24/7 support hotline.
The Blue Bench organization, founded in 1983, is a Denver-based sexual assault prevention and support center that assists nine Denver counties with a plethora of resources for sexual assault victims and advocates. The resources include the 24/7 hotline, informational pages addressing common misconceptions and educational programs each helping different demographics including schools, bars/music venues/clubs, parents, businesses, detention centers, etc.
Kayla Ham, coordinator of advocacy services for the Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Empowerment (CAPE), explained the process for deciding where to locate the bench, “Vice Chancellor Lili Rodriguez requested a location that is visible and could draw attention. Through this, and a collaborative effort with facilities and other departments on campus, the Driscoll Bridge was chosen for its visibility and practicality.”
“I feel the addition of the blue bench on the Driscoll Bridge communicates commitment to supporting survivors of sexual assault and brings awareness to these issues,” said Ham who hopes the bench “can be a place where people can reflect on issues impacting our community, and where victims/survivors can feel they are supported.”
DU, Ham says, partners with the organization for support services and both are connected through Denver’s Sexual Assault Interagency Council (SAIC) which commits to improving the response to sexual assault in the city and county of Denver. A second blue bench can be found in the Health and Counseling Center’s Asbury location.