Crime Victims Alliance Revived at Sam Houston

A student organization dedicated to serving crime victims is being re-launched at the College of Criminal Justice.

The Crime Victim Services Alliance, which will host its organizational meeting on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Courtroom, is open to all students who are interested in preserving and enhancing victims’ rights. In the past, the organization has provided guest speakers and site visits in the field as well as raising funds and awareness on victim issues.

"There are a lot of opportunities to do activities," said Dr. Leana Bouffard, the club’s faculty adviser. “For example, February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and April is Sexual Assault Victims Awareness Month. April is also Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which will generate a lot of activities.”

The alliance, which was active up until 2007, is being reorganized along with the Victim Studies curriculum. In the past, the bachelor’s degree involved a more interdisciplinary approach, with classes required in many departments across the university. Now the curriculum is more centrally focused, with classes in psychology and sociology that focus on understanding a victim’s response to trauma.

Sam Houston State University is one of only a few colleges nationwide to offer the Victim Studies degree. Graduates can work in victim service offices in police department and correctional facilities as well as non-profit agencies, such as women’s shelter and crisis hotlines. The College is in the process of developing a Bachelor of Science degree in Victims Studies.

While the group is expected to attract students in Victim Studies, it also is available to anyone passionate about working with victims.

"It is perfect not only for those in Victim Studies, but anyone that supports or advocates for crime victims," said Alicia Deal, a Ph.D. student who was one of the founding members of the organization in 2003. "It is a very positive way to talk, debate and expose themselves to how victims feel."

It is also a great way to network with professionals in the field for future career opportunities, Deal said.

“It provides valuable resources and students can take advantage of them,” Deal said.

Before the alliance became inactive in 2007, its members participated in victim-related conferences, police ride-alongs, and fundraising activities. It offered guest speakers not only in the professions, but victims being served. The group toured a women’s prison and victim service offices in Austin, Houston and College Station and even took a trip to the Memorial for victims of Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. The organization raised funds for SAAFEHouse, the local shelter for victims of domestic violence.

The organizational meeting will elect officers for the organization and discuss the club’s future activities, which may include a logo design contest. For more information about the organization, contact Dr. Leana Bouffard at (936) 294-3123.

The College of Criminal Justice offers six student organizations, including the Crime Victim Services Alliance; Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society: Lambda Alpha Epsilon American Criminal Justice Association: National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ): The Society of Forensic Science (SFS); and Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity. For more information about each club, visit the Student Organization page on the College’s Web site at www.cjcenter.org/center/orgs.html.

Member of The Texas State University System