Student view:

Taylor Kuminski: Advocacy and leadership

Taylor Kuminski (pictured back right) is a senior majoring in animal science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with a minor in women's and gender studies in the College of Arts and Letters and a minor in educational studies in the College of Education. Kuminski is also student president of MSU's Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team.

I joined the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team in the fall of 2015, during the first semester of my freshman year. I had worked with survivors of domestic violence in high school through a student organization and for my Girl Scout Gold Award, and was drawn to the idea of continuing to help survivors at MSU.

Now that I am in my fourth year in SACI and am taking on my third and last year on EBoard, I can honestly and confidently say that applying for SACI was the best decision of my college career.

In order to become a SACI advocate, I applied with the MSU Sexual Assault Program, went through 44 hours of training on crisis intervention and pick up at least two shifts a month. These shifts include manning our 24-hour hotline shifts, crisis chat shifts, community outreach and staffing safe space events.

We also attend weekly meetings every Monday. Our meetings rotate through four topics: continued education, SACI bonding, professional development and self-care. As the president, I work with the other members on EBoard to ensure the group is running smoothly, plan events for SACI and check in to make sure all our members are doing well.

My favorite part of being on SACI is knowing that we are making a difference because so often we are the first person that someone confides in about an assault, which leaves them in an extremely vulnerable position and makes our response crucial to their healing process. It feels amazing to end a phone call or crisis chat conversation knowing you helped safety plan, processed with or provided resources to a survivor or co-survivor.

Another aspect of SACI that makes this work so incredible is the people I get to do it with. All the staff in the MSU Sexual Assault Program are kind, empathetic and so passionate about helping survivors. SACI advocates constantly check in with each other and support each other through difficult times, and the program wouldn’t be the same without such an amazing team of people.

Throughout college, SACI has provided me with a voice to stand up for what is right, empathy to help others and knowledge of resources in the community. Even though I graduate this year, I look forward to finding a similar program wherever I end up, and I plan to continue advocating for survivors.