Oasis loses federal grant

By Jessica Lee
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 23, 2004

$250,000 grant loss cuts director's spot

The UA Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence is being forced to reorganize after losing a $250,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 1, 2003.

The Oasis Center had been receiving the grant for the last four years, but due to the grant's competitive nature, the center was not selected to receive the grant again.

The grant made up half of the Oasis Center's approximate $252,000 yearly budget.

The proposed reorganization calls for the elimination of the director position and the elimination of two staff positions. The Oasis Center has five staff members and 12 volunteers.

The center provides consultation, advocacy, referrals and educational training for students, faculty and staff and will now solely rely on funding from the university and the National Panhellenic Council.

The university allocates $121,000 per year to the Oasis Center through Campus Health Services. The National Panhellenic Council gives the center $6,000.

Although the Oasis Center is losing considerable funding, university officials said the UA community should not see a drop in available services.

"Our goal of the reorganization is to provide the same programs and services that have been provided up to this time," said Harry McDermott, executive director of Campus Health and Wellness. "We had to come up with a new plan to be more efficient financially, that would preserve the services with the base university funding."

Irene Anderson, the director of the Oasis Center, announced her resignation Jan. 20 in a memo to the members of the Oasis Center Advisory Board.

The Oasis Center director's salary for 2003-2004 is $50,666.

Anderson, who has worked for the center for eight years, plans to continue her work through her private consulting practice.

"I am going to continue working as a consultant for other campuses who are concerned about the lack of coordinated response to sexually assaulted victims," Anderson said. "I am also hoping to continue raising the standard at (Arizona Student University) and (Northern Arizona University) so other state universities can also have the standard that we have developed at UA."

The three staff positions that will be offered after the reorganization include a full-time mental health clinician and a prevention educator. A half-time administrative secretary will oversee scheduling and budgetary responsibilities.

Anderson was asked to stay at the Oasis Center as the mental health clinician, but she declined the offer.

"Irene was offered the mental health position but has made the decision to leave UA. She has done an amazing job bringing awareness about relationship violence and sexual assault. We have developed a nationally recognized model. We are sad to see her move on," McDermott said.

The reorganization should be complete by April 30 when the money remaining in the Oasis Center's federal account expires.

"Our primary goal is to do this so we can preserve the services Anderson has developed over the years," McDermott said.

Patricia Ortega, a criminal justice freshman, said she knows how important the services offered at the Oasis Center can be to students.

"I had a friend who was raped last semester. She is doing better this semester, but she still thinks about it and gets quiet. We do our best to take her mind off of it," Ortega said.

The Center is located on the second floor of Old Main but may be moved in the future.

"There is some discussion about what is happening with the space in Old Main," McDermott said. "It is our hope that we will continue to have space in Old Main. But those decisions are made at higher levels at the university."

The Oasis Center was established to help university students, faculty and staff who have been impacted by sexual and relationship violence, as well as help people prevent situations that may lead to sexual violence.

The Oasis Center is located in Room 228 of Old Main. Counselors can be reached at 626-2051.