IowaCASA at Waldorf college

Scherael Thurston-Shell is new at her position, and already she’s trying to provide a light for victims of a very dark crime.

“You get just youthful enthusiasm and energy.  Just kind of the thought process of the world can be a better place and so who doesn’t want to be around that,” Scherael said.

She’s an attorney with Iowa CASA, the Iowa Coalition against Sexual Assault.  Through a legal assistance for victims grant, she’s been visiting colleges like Waldorf, as well as universities, and even high schools for the past four months helping students understand their rights if they’ve become a victim of sexual violence.

“Obviously we’re here and we provide these services and we want to be utilized, but at the same time you think of the nature of sexual violence, it’s scary.  It’s a private matter for many people and something they feel they cannot easily talk about,” Scherael said.

“It’s a very important topic at a college campus.  It’s an unreported crime unfortunately.  It happens at every campus and we want students to have access to legal help, resources, advocates,” Jason Ramaker said.

Jason Ramaker, as Dean of Students, says he’s seeing reports of sexual assault being filed more often, but he feels it shows students aren’t scared to report it.  Which is good, with all the outlets on campus now, including an office for Crisis Intervention Services, to make them feel comfortable to talk.

“I think that exposure of Andrea and Nicole who work for Crisis Intervention Services to students, a name, a face, and a office certainly increases the communication on campus,” Ramaker said.

“We have the best intentions. I think a lot of school administrators just want these young people to grow up and be awesome, productive members of society and not to be drowned in the fact that something unfortunate, they were a victim of sexual violence,” Scherael said.

They work in all 99 counties within Iowa.  The help provided to students is pro bono.