Women’s Union, Black Student Union and UNITAS held a series of events from October 24 to October 28 to address sexual violence and abuse on college campuses throughout the country. The week was named as the “It’s On Us Sexual Assault Awareness Week.”
All three student organizations created comfort kits for victims of sexual violence too. These kits contain shampoos, conditioners, sweatpants, shirts and hand written cards. According to Angelica Dedona ’19, co-president of Women’s Union, the purpose of the comfort kits was to induce positivity and optimism amongst the victims and try to add happiness and help them during their hard time. The comfort kits are funded by UNITAS and donations were collected through tabling across campus by Women’s Union. Women’s Union also initiated a GoFundMe page. To contribute to their cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/comfortkitsWU2016. The details of the events held throughout the week are as follows:
On Monday October 24 in Reamer Campus Center, with food catered through Union Hospitality, an event called “Law and Order: SVU, Food and Discussion with Women’s Union” was held, aiming to emphasize the numerous cases of hazing involved in rape attempts and reports on college campuses. Counselors from the Wicker Wellness Center were present to share how they could act as a resource for students on campuses in such instances.
On Tuesday October 25, the Black Student Union, UNITAS and Women’s Union collaborated on another event on campus called “Sexual Assault in Multicultural Communities Visual Protest.” The event was aimed at discussing how black women are at a risk throughout the country and need more representation. The organizers stressed that within the law system, black women are underrepresented and face a judicial bias every now and then.
On Wednesday October 26, Gillian Singer ’19, co-president of Women’s Union, tabled outside Reamer Campus Center. The theme of the day was listed as “LGBTQIA+ Ribbons for Awareness.” All those present were asked to make bows to tie which included a message: in acts of sexual violence, people should not stay quiet and not be bystanders, but rather upstanders in such incidents.
On Thursday October 27, Women’s Union led the Identity Dialogues for the week. Held in the Unity Room in the Reamer Campus Center, Identity Dialogues are a series of safe space conversations lead by Union students discussing multiple aspects of identity.
These conversations occur every Thursday during common lunch and are open to all students, faculty and staff. Each week, the planning team picks a topic and then identifies students who can lead a discussion around that identity. These judgment-free conversations seek to bring taboo or uncomfortable topics that can help our campus grow in understanding through discussion.
This week’s dialogue was called “Reclaiming Slut; Redefining Women’s Sexual Identity” and was majorly aimed at talking about how female sexuality was perceived by students throughout college campuses. It was well attended by students, faculty and staff.
On Friday October 28, an ending reception was held in Karp Hall. The people who gave closing remarks were Professor Andrea R. Foroughi, Associate Professor Director of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Lisa Simmons, Crime Prevention Specialist and Melissa A Kelley, Union’s Title IX Coordinator. Lisa Simmons briefly talked about the role of campus safety officers in rape and sexual violence cases and noted that students and staff should recognize campus safety officers as a useful resource in such instances and know that they are equipped to deal with such situations at all times.
Summarizing the whole week and defining the purpose of holding a series of events, Dedona noted, “The point of this week was to provoke and encourage dialogue about sexual assault. This is an issue that has always been glazed over by students with the phrase ‘It could never happen to me.’ Through the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign we were able to call our student body to action, encouraging students to be upstanders instead of bystanders, to be informed instead of negligent.”