New VARP Director seeks to include all

The Violence Response Awareness Program (VARP) received a new director this fall who aims to make all Mavericks feel safe and included.

Rachel Maccabee said her first few weeks in the role have included a lot of learning, but have been fantastic.

“I’m someone who has had a lot of experience having difficult conversations, so when someone comes to my office, it feels really great to be the woman that I needed when I was that age,” Maccabee said. “It’s been easier than I thought it would be in the parts where I thought it would be difficult and a little tougher in the parts that I thought might be easy.”

Maccabee said Mankato is home to her in more ways than one. Besides living here for the past six years, Maccabee graduated from Minnesota State in the ’90s with a bachelor’s in forensic anthropology before getting her master’s in conflict resolution and conflict analysis in Washington D.C. at George Mason University.

During her time at MSU, Maccabee was an off-campus senator for a few years before becoming the speaker of Student Government her senior year. Maccabee was also involved in the Anthropology Club, Urban Studies Club and started the Jewish Student Association. She interned with the Federal Aviation Administration, worked at the Pentagon’s Department of Defense and became the spokesperson for a traveling exhibition that uses cadavers to teach anatomy. 

Maccabee said all the roles she’s had have led her to look at large systems and find the spaces where they needed to be fixed. 

“I’m a confidential advocate for primary and secondary victims and survivors of sexual violence. The other half of my job is reaching out to the entire campus to educate them about healthy relationships, consent and what good intimacy and dating look like,” Maccabee said. “This job has allowed me to be a better analyst for what would best serve our campus.”

Maccabee said she was glad she was “shouldered out” by coworkers after previous VARP Director Shadow Rolan left. 

“People in this division kept saying ‘Wouldn’t you love to take this role? Isn’t it a good fit for you?’ I’m happy for every day I can keep serving and helping both the Mankato and MSU population,” Maccabee said.

Maccabee said her stretch goal is to make MSU a violence-free campus. 

“I want that to be something we’re known for, that we’re a safe place for women, men and gender non-conforming folk,” Maccabee said. “I want MSU to be a place where it’s safe to let others know violence is not acceptable here and you will be supported at this university.”

In order to reach as many students as possible, Maccabee said she’s planning several events to interact with multiple communities. An intersectionality high tea during Black History Month and a Ramadan meal during American Day of Muslim Women are in the works. 

“VARP is not always ending or confronting violence. Sometimes I’m literally sitting here and saying ‘Here’s your band-aid. Here’s your blanket.’ Sometimes I’m doing things like programming and figuring out what’s going on,” Maccabee said. “It helps when you get to know more populations.”

Maccabee said even though her office is located in the Women’s Center, all genders are welcome to speak with her.

“I want people who are bold and brash to come in. I want people that are modest to come in. I would like everyone to know they are welcome here,” Maccabee said. “I’m here for all 14,000 of you.” 
Students can set up an appointment with Maccabee through email at or stop by the Women’s Center from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Header photo: New Violence Response Awareness Program director Rachel Maccabee aims to make all Mavericks feel safe and included. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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