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Our History

​Evolution of services 

​SAPA’s advocacy work began in 1997, with the first-class consisting of only ten advocates and an on-call pager system. Through the dedication and hard work of this class and the many that followed, the program now consists of nearly 50 advocates and is contacted hundreds of times each academic year via hotline, online, and in-person services. ​

Our founder and former director, Steve M. Thompson began developing the concept for SAPA in 1996 with the support of vested campus partners. Both Thompson and the university understood the importance of confidentiality as the cornerstone of SAPA’s work. This ideal has been withheld throughout the existence of our organization and continues today. Thompson worked tirelessly for 18 years to expand our services and promote the advocacy standards upon which SAPA was founded. He deeply valued the ability of students to positively impact the issues of sexual aggression and the lives of those affected. Without his foresight and dedication, SAPA would never have been created nor grown into the program it has become today.  

Throughout our history, we have attempted to grow our services and strive to stay relevant to the ever-changing needs of the campus and community populations we serve. Today we offer educational programming, awareness events, continued education for our advocates, and we work to engage in our community through various outreach opportunities. Each advocate dedicates 30+ hours of their time every year in addition to their advocacy work to assist in these efforts.  

History of training

Our training has evolved over time from 40 hours of annual training to a minimum of 60 hours of training each year. We are fortunate to be able to provide this extensive training that surpasses what many professional-level advocates are able to receive. SAPA's receive an average of 120 hours of training before they leave the university.

Our flagship program

CMU was revolutionary in its decision to make the issues of sexual aggression a mandatory orientation learning experience for incoming freshmen. In 1998, Thompson created It Could Happen To You which soon developed into our flagship program, No Zebras, No Excuses. The program grew each year and has been utilized by the U.S. military as a training program. This was the catalyst for the development of No Zebras & More, a company that now houses a professional cast of SAPA alumni headed by Thompson who travels the world presenting No Zebras, No Excuses. This program continues to be offered as a CMU orientation program and is a collaboration of efforts between current advocates and the professional cast. 

SAPA alumni

The continued work and training of SAPA would not be possible without the generous support, commitment, and dedicated efforts of our alumni. Each year SAPA utilizes over 100 alumni members who assist our organization in training, interviewing, continued education, mentoring, consulting, and countless other ways. Without our alumni, SAPA would not be able to provide the level of services and training we do today. 

Many of our alumni go on to continue the work they started with SAPA at CMU and remain active in the field of sexual aggression. Our alumni bring their unique SAPA experience to a wide variety of professions and as well as their communities. We pride ourselves in maintaining our relationship with alumni and utilizing their wealth of knowledge and skillsets to continue our efforts to better our organization and the services we provide.