With Sexual Assault Awareness month underway at SOU’s Women’s Resource Center, the education and activities are just beginning. Among the events is the “Carry That Weight” campaign by ASSOU, managed by Emily Pfiffer.
“It’s a survivor’s bill of rights,” says Hannah Egar with the WRC, “it’s helping us to combat the broader themes of rape culture at a university level.” Rape culture is defined as a concept within feminist theory in which rape is considered as a pervasive problem and normalized or trivialized. It further implies victim blaming and objectification. Many within the women’s empowerment movement believe this culture underlies sexual and other forms of violence against women and oppressed groups.
In response to a powerful project initiated by Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University, the CTW campaign is the first step for universities all over the country to take a stance against what they believe is an existing rape culture.
“She carried her mattress around after she was sexually assaulted on it, as a statement about sexual assault on campus,” said Sasha Santo, with last week’s FemFest, “and also, how she had to keep going to school with the person who assaulted her.”
The proposed university bill would protect victims’ rights in a variety of ways, ranging from the complete confidentiality upon disclosure, to being “treated with dignity and to being guaranteed access to courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling,” with the victim remaining free of all financial burden.
“It’s basically an agreement for schools about what’s to happen to survivors of sexual assault after they come forward with that kind of story,” Santo says, “they shouldn’t be forced to relive that trauma over and over again.”
Students can sign the petition and read a copy of the actual bill in the ASSOU room upstairs in the Stevenson Union building.
To follow up last week’s FemFest and first ever FemSlam, this week’s activities feature guest speaker and LGBTQ activist, Randall Jenson. The events kick off on Wednesday the 22nd at 12:30p.m. with a Queer Luncheon in the Guanajuato Room, followed by a screening of Jensons Web Documentary titled “50Faggots” at 5:30p.m. in the Rogue River Room.
The month long theme continues on Thursday, with Jenson’s multimedia project titled “Memories of Violence” at 5:30p.m. in the Meese Room. This event includes group communication and activities among survivors and supporters.
The main event starts at 6p.m. on Friday in the Rogue River Room, with the Take Back the Night rally. Participants will march downtown, showing unity and support for victims and activists, and exchanging cards with valuable information for anyone who frequents the local bar scene.
“They’ll have a list of bars in the area who have been trained by the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response team,” says Alyssa McPartland “you can keep it in your wallet.”