Some thoughts on the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This month has been a delightful one for me despite the many sleepless nights typical of April and college life in general. Why? You might ask. It was because wherever I went on campus, I would be greeted with signs of support for sexual assault victims or acceptance of people regardless of their gender.

Randolph College has done a pretty good job this year of spreading awareness on campus about the contentious issue of rape and sexual assault. The Clothesline Project adorned the college’s hallways and corridors with colorful T-shirts decorated with creative, touching messages to victims, showing that there are people here in this community that do care and are willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear for anyone in need. The Office of Sexual Misconduct Education and Advocacy also held a forum titled Randolph’s Response to Sexual Violence to inform and take feedback from the student body about our current policy. To top it off, there were a screening of Can’t Thread a Moving Needle and a domestic violence shelter supply drive to the Wal-mart on Old Forest. Last Friday, Sexual Assault Awareness Month ended with Denim Day when everyone wore denim to show support for victims of rape and sexual assault.

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Drag Kings Shane Collins and Alex Harbet at the Drag Show.

Bridges, the only LGBTQ+ club on campus, also contributed with their Queer Week events, including a screening of Patrick 1.5, a (quite marvelous) Drag Show, LGBTQ+ poetry reading, and a wonderfully colorful Drag Party. The Drag Show was indeed a huge success: Thoresen Theatre was almost packed and people got so excited that they clapped, sang, and danced along to all the performances.

Last, kudos to some secret society that has been putting up educational messages about consent and pro-gay marriage signs all over campus, if you read this blog, you all know that you are awesome!

Compared to last year, this year has been a better year for feminism behind the red brick wall. I feel like we have more events and the events get better participation (to be honest, I am not entirely sure if we had any events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year — or maybe we did and I just didn’t pay attention then).

However, as April is coming to an end, I am greatly saddened at the realization that we only have a month to do all of these cool awareness-raising projects. I feel like these projects are the only way to bring the community together and get the chemistry going so that we as a group can make some small but progressive changes. It’s hard to be a full-time activist for several reasons; but I can and would love to do it “part-time” to contribute somehow to social changes within my capability.

We should have more events like this and make every month of the year a Sexual Assault/ LGBTQ+ Awareness Month. It takes a lot of time and effort to plan and organize these events, so I am not saying that one single office or club should be in charge of this year-long project. But I would love to see the whole community participate in this ongoing discourse about feminist issues like these. Just as we do with Sustainability, I’d love to see the same support and attitude in our community towards feminism. Is this too hard to ask for? What can we do about it to make this place, where I hold dear to my heart, a better place?

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6 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

  1. I see a lot of positive changes happening here at RC and you all – THE RIOTERS are part of it! Thank you for your dedication and hard work! It takes bravery to address these challenging issues in such a public forum – you are role models.

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I went to a small university in Pennsylvania and I worked at the women’s resource center on campus. I feel the same way about SAAM as well. Yes, everything takes some time to plan, but it is so wonderful to see the outpouring of support. Overall, sexual assault seems to be taboo in our society; I feel that people are more comfortable talking about domestic violence, honestly. So to have a month where we do so much outreach and have so many good conversations about sexual assault just doesn’t seem like enough.

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    • Thank you for your comment, I am glad to see that there are others on college campuses across the nation who feel the same as me about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN), here in the land of the free, someone would get sexually assaulted every 107 seconds, meaning that while you are microwaving your popcorn, someone somewhere is being the victim of rape and sexual assault. It makes me angry to think about how often rape and sexual assault happen while most people are oblivious to this fact and assume that everything is fine and good around them (there are so many victims who choose not to report or talk about their cases, which makes it even harder for people to realize how severe sexual assault and rape are in this country, not in some third-world areas far far away) Events and projects during SAAM do help a lot in educating people about consent or what to do when it happens to you. It also shows victims that they have others who support them, who may have shared the same experience, and who are willing to work together to prevent such a crime from happening to someone else. I think one of the best way to overcome a traumatic experience is to turn your negative thoughts into positive energy and action by participating in events like these. We honestly believe that we need to work toward a supportive community if we ever want to change anything

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  3. YES. I completely agree that these important issues deserve a place in our continued, collective dialogue. And I also agree that we all have a piece to contribute, a role to play, in keeping the conversation alive and present throughout our time here (and our lives). I feel lucky this year to have been granted the opportunity to contribute more to that endeavor. You write about the events of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (thank you!), but I also want to raise awareness about the other initiatives we offer, throughout the year. At the start of this year, we offered programming at Orientation with new and transfer students, SUPER students, and athletes. We hope to build upon these each year, to make them better and better. We offered more than 10 trainings throughout the year to various campus groups about sexual violence – the DOS staff, Athletics staff, B&G, Residence Life, Security, and faculty and staff groups. Sharon Saunders, the head of Human Resources, coordinated a campus wide online training about sexual violence for all faculty and staff. We brought “Sex Signals” on campus in October. I hosted a Campus Advocates training for faculty and staff in January (and plan to offer the student complement this coming year). Thao Nguyen organized the Class of 2017 fundraiser around sexual violence awareness. A student group (I believe FMLA? But I’m not sure) organized the Red Flag posters around campus earlier this semester. Another student group made beautiful posters advertising SARP’s services earlier in the Fall. There are important, year-long initiatives happening on campus – and the more students who want to get involved, the more initiatives there can be – and the greater awareness and support we can have on campus. FMLA announced at a recent Town Hall meeting that they hope to offer Take Back the Night next fall. I know Student Government has been committed to contributing to sexual assault awareness and prevention on campus. And they have MONEY. Lots of MONEY. For student initiatives (hint, hint = talk to them about your ideas!). I’d encourage all students to reach out to any of these organizations, or to approach their own to start a conversation about how they can contribute to keeping our campus moving in a positive direction. I’ve been really thankful for this blog, and the good work you’ve done helping to raise awareness about important issues in our community and beyond.

    My other comment is more factual. We did have several events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year (Denim Day, Clothesline, a Resource Panel, and a student focus group on the Sexual Misconduct Policy).

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    • Hi Sara. I just wanted to thank you for all you’ve done over the past couple of years, and say that yes, FMLA was the group that made the Red Flag posters.

      Also, is there any progress on the idea you had about having a 1 credit class to train student advocates?

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  4. Hi there,
    Thank you for the kind words. No progress just yet on the course. I am in the process of talking to the department that I hope could house the course – but with the end of the semester upon us, there are other priorities right now. (I’m sure you’re feeling that, too!). If it is not ultimately approved (at all, or in time for next year) I do plan to offer the training during January. Check in with me for more details when we regroup in the fall.

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