Campus advocate to offer ‘holistic resources’ for survivors of sexual harassment, assault

Cal+Lutheran%27s+new+Campus+Advocate+Dahkotahv+Beckham+said+he+strives+to+connect+survivors+with+a+plethora+of+resources+depending+on+the+needs+of+the+individual.

Contributed - Dahkotahv Beckham

Cal Lutheran’s new Campus Advocate Dahkotahv Beckham said he strives to connect survivors with a plethora of resources depending on the needs of the individual.

Isabella Breda, Editor in Chief, Shariliz Poveda, Features Editor, and Lindsey Potter, News and Managing Editor

California Lutheran University welcomed a campus advocate from the Coalition for Family Harmony earlier this month. 

“I want people to feel like they can have access to me even if it is just a question or concern or even if it is a Title IX case,” Cal Lutheran Campus Advocate Dahkotahv Beckham said in a Zoom interview. “I’m hoping that people will feel comfortable to reach out and if not…  I’m definitely going to be checking in and just like being a friendly face.” 

Beckham will be a confidential resource for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Cal Lutheran.

Angela Naginey, Title IX coordinator at Cal Lutheran said that Beckham will play an important role in supporting survivors–a role that Title IX coordinators can’t.

“This is where Chris [Paul] has been [in] a tough role, is that once [a case is reported] we walk [them] through it and we tell them what their rights are, and what they have the ability to do but there’s nobody that has the ability to hold their hand,” Naginey said in a Zoom interview.

As the campus advocate, Beckham will connect survivors with resources both on and off campus.

“I really look at like a lot of holistic resources,” Beckham said. “I know that [survivors] are going to need support with legal but also emotionally, so like getting a therapist, and so I really try and sit down with the person and see anything that I can do to possibly help them.”

These resources may range from getting a new phone plan to help sever any financial ties to their former partner, to accessing food and shelter. Beckham said he tries to meet the unique needs of the individual.

Beckham said he feels that he will be able to help initiate “healing around the past” at Cal Lutheran. 

Over the past five years, Cal Lutheran faculty, staff and students have complained about the university’s unclear policies surrounding sexual misconduct and the potential for conflict of interest in the lack of a dedicated Title IX Coordinator who doesn’t bear other titles on campus.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Director of Residence Life and Dean of Students Chris Paul said that two students, Lindy Ortiz and Rebecca Odza, presented the idea to bring on a campus advocate to support survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Cal Lutheran in February.

In a Zoom interview, Odza said she first heard about the Coalition for Family Harmony through her faculty advisor, Schannae Lucas, professor of Criminal Justice.

Odza said both she and Ortiz “have had horrible experiences with… sexual assault on campus or off campus… and we just definitely didn’t feel like we had enough support, like at all.”

Ortiz said they thought a campus advocate from the Coalition could help bridge the gap and get students the support they need.  

“When the Board [of Regents] came [in the spring]… I quickly wrote up a proposal,” Ortiz said.

She said the proposal included an explanation of the role of a campus advocate, using California State University, Channel Islands as an example and provided a list of grants that could help Cal Lutheran fund this partnership.

Melinda Roper, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students then kept Odza and Ortiz updated on the process of the partnership.

“We didn’t have any sit down meetings with her or the board, but she kept us updated with emails throughout the entire process of it being discussed and approved,” Ortiz said. 

Paul said by April the contract was signed for an August start date and Beckham was on-boarded two weeks ago.

In addition to Beckham’s primary duties as an on-campus resource, he also plans to start a survivor support group.

“He can run a survivor’s group, which has been something that students have wanted for a long time, but was unable to be done, because [Counseling and Psychological Services] could not do it for their licensing reasons,” Paul said. “So that’ll be good if there are survivors on campus that want to meet in a group setting.” 

Beckham, a former homeless youth who identifies as a transgender man, said he feels called to do this work.

“It’s really awesome and to be able to not only work with like a community that I deeply connect to but to step out… to see more than one population,” Beckham said.

Without Ortiz and Odza reaching out to the Regents, Cal Lutheran wouldn’t have an advocate.

“I definitely want to push other Cal Lutheran students to keep checking up on Cal Lutheran and keep proposing more if that’s what they need,” Ortiz said. “The university is supposed to make you feel safe. And if it’s not doing that then you need to tell them, and they need to change it.”

Beckham can be reached by email for a confidential conversation, or through the Coalition’s bilingual 24/7 crisis hotline, 800-300-2181. Students can reach out for both on and off campus incidents.