By Layne Wells '19
Staff Writer & Photographer
Following the recent opening of the EmPOWER Center on January 26th, The Scripps Voice had the pleasure of speaking with Director Rima Shah regarding the Center’s purpose, accessibility, and outreach. Shah, whose career in nonprofit programming and sexual violence training spans 13 years, has worked extensively in her field and has just recently led the opening of the EmPOWER Center. It is described as a violence prevention and support center serving the seven Claremont Colleges.
The Center is not Shah’s first experience working with the college students, however; before coming to Southern California, she worked with DePaul University in Chicago as their sexual health and violence prevention specialist, serving nearly 24,000 students and faculty. Prior to her work in the States, Shah worked extensively in India through well-known groups like Ford Foundation, Unicef, and the World Institute on Disability and also independent consulting.
The Scripps Voice: Why Claremont? After doing work throughout India and the Midwest, what made you want to come out to the Claremont University Consortium? What started the EmPOWER Center and your role in it?
Rima Shah: I came for the great opportunity— being the inaugural director of a center devoted to the issues I am most passionate about, i.e. violence prevention and student support. Having the opportunity to help build the Center from the ground up and having the opportunity to do that at an outstanding consortium of colleges is what attracted me to this position. In addition, I believe for any initiative to be effective, it must be informed by the needs of the community it serves. The fact that the creation of the EmPOWER Center was the direct result of the needs expressed by and input provided by students, staff and faculty further drew me to this position.
TSV: For those who have not read your literature or attended the kick-off, what is the EmPOWER Center?
RS: The EmPOWER Center is a 7C resource that primarily focuses on two areas—
Support— We provide free, confidential support, counseling, and referrals to 7C students impacted by sexual violence, dating/domestic violence, and stalking.
Education— We work collaboratively with students, staff, faculty, clubs and community partners to build awareness and sensitivity and provide educational programs for the 7Cs community around healthy relationships, sexual violence, dating/domestic violence and stalking.
TSV: Is the Center an extension of the Scripps Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault or of any other 5C support groups?
RS: Not exactly. But we collaborate with the Advocates from the various colleges and with other support groups.
TSV: Will the Center host events this semester and beyond for the colleges? If so, what kinds and when?
RS: Yes. We are still in the planning stages. More details to come soon. But in the works are a 5C/7C men’s initiative, a survivor support group, first responder trainings, collaborative events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, etc.
1030 Dartmouth Avenue
Note – the Center has yet to publish walk-in hours but can be reached at the above address by Garrison Theater.