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Despite trustees' recommendation, only one coordinator will soon join Cassidy Johnson

One, Cassidy Johnson, has been supporting survivors of gender, gender identity and gender expression-based violence at the center since 2014.

Christi Hurt, interim director of the Carolina Women’s Center, said the center is hoping to hire a second coordinator as quickly as possible, so the new person can train over the summer and be ready to work with students when they return to UNC in the fall.

“The recommendation was that we eventually hire four, but we don’t have a specific date or timeline for when that will actually happen,” Hurt said.

On March 23, the Board of Trustees called for the Carolina Women’s Center to increase the gender violence services staff by two positions as soon as possible, with the eventual goal of hiring a total of four coordinators.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women currently provides the funding to support Johnson’s role. State funding will support the hiring of one additional coordinator, Hurt said.

The Board of Trustees requested $50,000 for the new coordinator.

“Hiring additional gender violence services coordinators is necessary so that members of our Carolina community who are impacted by gender-based harassment and/or violence can receive the best care and support possible,” Johnson said in an email.

Johnson provides students, faculty and staff with services such as emotional support, answers to questions about reporting incidents to the University or police, assistance in navigating through the reporting process and links to support at UNC and in the community.

Johnson said she has noticed people typically reach out to her when they are most in need, and because she helps so many people, individuals often have to wait several days for an appointment.

“It’s an extremely long time to wait if you’re trying to get help and answers to questions like, what does making a report to the school look like? What’s the difference between making a report to the school and the police? What will happen if I tell my professor what’s going on? Or how do I tell my parents what happened? This will hurt them so much,” Johnson said.

Hurt said Johnson has been a tremendous asset for the Carolina Women’s Center, and she provides a unique service as someone who can serve both as a counselor and a rape crisis advocate.

“She is definitely a good listener, is very empathetic and great to speak to if you don’t want a clinical experience,” sophomore Emily Yue said.

Yue said she hopes the new coordinator will be more representative of the marginalized population at UNC.

“Cassidy is great, but hiring a queer woman of color would be extremely beneficial to the women’s center,” Yue said. “This is a good opportunity to make the process more accessible for everyone.”

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