Sexual Assault Awareness Week
The Counseling Center, the Wellness Committee, and the Office of Community Engagement, and Student Affairs collaborated on a series of activities for Sexual Assault Awareness Week. A range of events, from marches to exhibitions to workshops, allowed participants to express themselves how they were most comfortable, either out loud publicly, or quietly in smaller spaces.
The week kicked off with the It’s On Us pledge, where students gathered to sign a poster pledging their commitment to stand together against sexual assault
Love Letters to Survivors followed. As part of her senior project, Kate Weisburg asked people to write love letters to survivors, which will be displayed in the Free/New Shed behind Big Haus. It was the end point of Wednesday’s Take Back the Night march.
On Tuesday, the Clothesline Project/Part of the Solution event had participants place messages on t-shirts and on posters to promote a culture of respect. They took selfies with their posters which were then hung clothesline fashion as a means to bear witness to victims. The Clothesline Project is a national organization in existence since 1990. The t-shirts and selfies were also on view during the Take Back the Night march.
Organized by the Wellness Center, the MiniSkirt March had participants don miniskirts—either their own or selected from the skirts available on site—and then march on campus in solidarity against sexual harassment and violence. The miniskirt symbolizes the freedom women have to wear what they choose and not be harassed for it. Miniskirt protest marches began several years ago in Africa after two women were attacked for wearing miniskirts.
Daniel Sanchez, PSGA President, opened the event by reading SUNY’s definition of consent, then recited statistics about the likelihood of students on campus becoming victims of assault. From his bullhorn, he exclaims, “Enough with victim blaming, it’s time for action.”
Members of the Purchase baseball team marched with their coach Adam Taraska by their side. Taraska says they “jumped at the chance” to join the march when invited to do so.
A photo display called Part of the Solution was on view all day Thursday, along with an Artist’s Showcase in the Red Room. Students were invited to submit any form of art, music, or dance with a theme of recovery from trauma, interpersonal violence and/or resilience.
At the Wellness Center, director of health services Nancy Reuben led Heart Healing, a group energy healing workshop.
The Take Back the Night event opened with the a cappella group Choral Pleasures emotional rendition of the song Til It Happens to You by Lady Gaga followed by moving personal testimonies. The event culminated in a candlelight march to the Free/New Shed where the Love Letters were on display. Take Back the Night is a non-profit organization who’ve been holding events since the 1960s to raise awareness and seek to end sexual assault.
To cap off the week, Healing Through Movement, held at the Wellness Center, allowed participants to express themselves physically through yoga, Zumba, and salsa dancing classes.