Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) will organize its Spring Week of Action April 1 through April 4 as part of the national It’s On Us Week of Action, which aims to raise awareness about and combat the issue of sexual violence on college campuses. The event coincides with the National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and will feature a different event each day of the week.
It’s On Us was created out of recommendations from the Obama and Biden White House Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assault, and the University of Portland has been part of the It’s On Us campaign for the past two years. Part of the core message of It’s On Us is for everyone to see themselves as having a role in preventing sexual violence. For this reason, SASA organizers want everyone to participate in the Week of Action, but also to recognize when they need to take care of themselves during these events.
“Whether it’s your thing or not, being there and showing up and saying, ‘I’m here, I see this, I support survivors, I support bringing an end to sexual violence’ is really important,” SASA co-president Shelby Gavigan said. “It can sometimes be overwhelming and heartbreaking, but showing up to events like these and educating ourselves and showing support for survivors is really important. I encourage students to go out of their way to educate themselves, have these hard conversations.”
Monday, April 1: Pledge Drive
SASA will have a table in front of the library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. encouraging students to take the It’s On Us pledge and handing out pins and stickers. Taking the pledge is a concrete way to raise awareness and bring a national conversation to campus, Gavigan explained. Students can pledge to “create a culture of consent, bystander intervention and survivor support.”
Tuesday, April 2: Teal Tuesday + speaker from Sexual Assault Resource Center
Teal is the color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and students are encouraged to wear the teal pins SASA will hand out. Then, at 6 p.m. on the Quiet Side of The Commons, Jenna Harper of the Sexual Assault Resource Center will give a lecture on victim-blaming and empathy.
Wednesday, April 3: Writing messages of encouragement to survivors
SASA will again have a table in front of the library from 11 a.m. 3 p.m. providing students with materials to write notes of “encouragement, love and support” to survivors that will be linked into a big paper chain, which will be displayed at Take Back the Night the next day. At the same time, there will be an “It’s On Us” banner that is also a bed sheet that students can sign to show solidarity, an event that was started in Villa Maria Hall last year.
Thursday, April 4: Take Back the Night
Take Back the Night is an international event to end sexual violence, and UP’s version will take place Thursday night at a time yet to be announced in St. Mary’s. The event will provide a space for survivors to share their stories and symbolically take back the night, Gavigan explained. She also emphasized that SASA wants people to know that the event is confidential, meaning that mandatory reporters are welcome without having to report unless someone discloses information mentioning child abuse or imminent physical harm.
“[We want to make] it a space where everyone can be there and be supported and be supportive without that barrier,” Gavigan said.
Dora Totoian isa reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.