Nightline will stay closed for at least a few more weeks, as the group goes through extra training processes and reviews its procedures at the request of administrators.
The Barnard-Columbia anonymous peer counseling hotline, which usually starts operating at the beginning of the semester, is still closed more than a week after the first day of classes. While Nightline’s directors had initially hoped to start taking calls within the first two weeks of the semester, they now say their lines may be closed until the end of the month.
“We have to write a lot of documents,” said Nightline co-director Lori Goldman, BC ’13, noting that the beginning of the semester is busy for everyone. She and co-director Katie Mukai, BC ’13, as well as Nightline’s advisers, are “just trying to get all our balls in the same court, and it’s taking a little while,” Goldman said.
Prospective Nightline peer counselors must go through a semester-long training process and take a certification test before being accepted into the group.
As part of the current review, all Nightline peer counselors will receive training from the Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center. While Nightline covers rape and other forms of sexual violence in its normal training procedures, the extra preparation will serve as a refresher, Goldman said.
“If, God forbid, something happens and there was a lawsuit, this is just to make sure we’d have the documentation to show that we did everything right. This is just legal documentation of what we’re already doing,” Goldman said.
While Nightline does not publicly release its staff numbers due to its emphasis on anonymity, Sarah Ngu, CC ’12 and a former Nightline peer counselor, described it as “one of the most selective groups on campus” in a Spectator opinion article, “Coming out,” last April.
Administrators first approached Nightline about reviewing the group’s procedures last spring, according to Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson. Hinkson said that Barnard requested the review, with Columbia’s support.
“As a function of oversight, we believe that regular training is necessary, as does the leadership of Nightline,” Hinkson said in an email. “When reviewing their materials we noted a few areas that could be improved upon and requested that they be addressed.”
Goldman characterized the review as a result of an increased focus on risk management throughout the University.
“A lot of organizations are doing this right now, and Nightline is just one of the more obvious organizations that you can see is having a delay,” she said.