As students return back to campus after a much needed fall break, Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) have planned a fall week of action beginning Monday, Oct. 24 and ending Friday, Oct. 28.
SASA tries to create a safe space where important conversations can occur between students. Each semester, they work with the It's On Us organization to hold a week of action on campus and emphasize the importance of being mindful while interacting with the displays and presentations.
These topics might be triggering for some community members and while the club sees this week as a moment for students to reflect on the pain and trauma that survivors of sexual assault experience, it is also recognized as a painful topic. SASA wants all students to approach this at whatever pace they are comfortable with.
“Our goal is to create a safe space for survivors,'' SASA social media coordinator Emma Niemela said. “We want to work on awareness and educational events, so that is what is going to be happening the week after fall break.”
During this week, SASA hopes to educate students about these sensitive topics, show them the resources and support they have access to and offer an opportunity to connect with students. Open to all students, no club membership or RSVP is required, and SASA encourages all students to attend.
Beginning on Monday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. with a Sexual Violence and Mental Health presentation and discussion with Active Minds in the Wellness Center, students will discuss the intersection of the two topics.
SASA and Active Minds advisor, psychology professor Erin Curie, will be there to guide the conversation and will lend professional support to help curate a safe space.
Tuesday, Oct. 25 there will be a “What Were You Wearing” display in collaboration with the UP fashion club. This display will include 10 different outfits that were worn by survivors of sexual assault and will be displayed all day on the Franz campus in hopes to spread the message that clothing does not equal consent.
“We're super excited about the “What Were You Wearing” because that's something we've never done before,” SASA co president Brooke Welter said. “And we think it's gonna be like a really powerful display.”
Outfits ranging from lingerie to sweatpants and sweatshirts will show that sexual assault is not caused by certain clothing items. Along with this display, there will be resources in the library featuring statistics surrounding sexual assault and survivor stories available for students to read.
Wednesday, Oct. 26 will be the annual pumpkin painting night at 7 p.m., held in Dundon Berchtold room 236, SASA will provide pumpkins, painting supplies, apple cider and cinnamon doughnuts.
The aim of this night is to provide students with a fall-themed self care night. Topics regarding sexual assault can be difficult to talk about for some students, so the event acts as a space for students to relax during these heavy weeks. SASA wants this to be a night where students can come together and remember to take care of themselves while sharing and listening to stories like this.
“We are trying to create a comforting community to have conversations and just relax and make sure everyone's taking care of themselves,” Niemela said.
Thursday, Oct. 27, there will be an organized guided meditation and yoga session. This will take place in Beauchamp studio 20 at 7:30 p.m. Students will be guided through a trauma-informed meditation to help them release any tension they are unknowingly storing in their bodies.
Built up trauma and tension are carried with survivors' bodies with them after they have experienced assault. This meditation and yoga will guide survivors through letting go of that trauma and hopefully act as a start to letting their bodies relax.
The annual flag display will be put up on Friday, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on the Academic Quad. Teal flags are rooted in the ground to represent the amount of assaults reported, not reported and how many assaulters are punished for speaking out.
“It's really awareness, support, and education,” Niemela said. “Those are our real goals.”
More information can be found on the SASA instagram page.
Netty Jurriaans is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.