Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs

Committee Chairperson

Matthew Kruger-Ross, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline Hodes, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jason Wozniak, Ph.D.


In this thesis, I address the systemic issue of sexual violence and rape culture that affect students on college campuses at an alarming rate. By utilizing critical action research, I propose the creation of the Department of Survivor Outreach and Response (SOAR), a holistic and collaborative department that focuses on supporting and advocating for survivors of sexual violence while also conducting prevention and education initiatives. I emphasize the importance of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality (1993), encourage the use of the Social Change Model of Leadership (Astin & Astin, 1996), and empathy within leadership. SOAR is designed to ensure sexual violence is addressed while also mitigating the institutional betrayal (Stader & Williams-Cunningham, 2017) survivors experience due to a lack of proper response from their college or university. While providing systemic change on college campuses, SOAR and the cultural shift it causes in academia will ultimately be reflected in society outside of academia as well. The connections that colleges and universities have to the communities they exist within will allow this intervention to have a wide-reaching impact.