Wesleyan Students for Consent and Communication (SFCC), as well as a collection of student groups involved in sex awareness and sexual assault awareness, have organized Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW) on campus. The week includes a series of events that aim to raise awareness about the importance of the issue and push back against societal trends that have long muted its inclusion in public conversation.
Each day of the week includes at least one event that encourages students to engage with sexual assault awareness. Monday’s event included a lecture on Title IX, the provision stating that educational institutions receiving federal funding cannot discriminate based on sex. The provision has been used by students and activists to compel universities to provide better support for survivors of sexual assault.
“It’s important students know their rights and what else is going on on campus, especially because there are so many resources students don’t know about and so many things students are involved that others don’t know about,” said Mariah Le Beau ’20, one of the organizers of the week and a member of SFCC. “It’s important to know about that before diving into the week’s events.”
Tuesday, the group will host a screening of “A Better Man,” which discusses the healing and aftermath of men taking responsibility for sexual assault. Wednesday, SFCC is urging students to wear as much denim as possible for Denim Day, which started after a Supreme Court Justice in Italy blamed a survivor of sexual assault for wearing skinny jeans. The group is also hosting a Healing and Reclaiming Workshop aimed at bringing together survivors and allies to discuss trauma and healing, as well as an “Art for Healing” event in which students make collective art and posters for Thursday’s event, Take Back the Night.
“Shatter the Silence,” the event’s description reads, “Stop the Violence. A Nationwide movement to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence. The night itself is an effort to take up and reclaim space on campus.”
Take Back the Night, which also took place last year, is the primary event organized by SFCC with the intention of providing survivors a safe forum for their voices in a society that is often not welcoming to them. This year, the group is trying to invigorate its messaging by lining up a week full of events and collaborating with other student groups involved in both sexual assault activism and sex education.
“A lot of the focus with Sexual Assault Awareness Week is on sexual assault and rape culture, but another important part of it is not just talking about the negatives and how we can prevent that but also the positives and how we can promote that behavior,” said organizer Michaela Olson ’20.
SAAW is also hosted by Adolescent Sexual Health Awareness, the Title IX Committee, Open House, Wellbeing House, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Asian/Asian-American House, the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, the American Studies Department, Wesleyan Doula Project, WesWell, Office of Survivor Advocacy & Community Education, and the Adelphic Educational Fund.
SAAW will conclude on Friday with free HIV testing in the Usdan University Center, a resource fair for student groups engaged in sex awareness and sexual assault awareness to collaborate, and an evening social forum for students to provide feedback to the groups involved.
Mason Mandell can be reached at email@example.com.