Prevention Demands Equity: SAAM at Stockton
Galloway, N.J. – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Stockton University has held programs and extended resources to the campus community supporting the national theme: Drawing Connections – Prevention Demands Equity.
Leading the charge is the Women’s Gender & Sexuality Center (WGSC), which started the month with an art display titled “What Were You Wearing?” on April 11 & 12. The display was full of different pieces of clothing – a black dress, a Looney Tunes T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, etc. – and stories of sexual assault from the wearers attached to them.
According to Laurie Dutton, director of the WGSC, the purpose of such an exhibit is to educate students on sexual assault awareness in a creative and impactful way.
“The exhibit shows that it doesn’t make a difference if the victim is wearing sexy clothes or sweats because sexual assault is a crime of power and control by the offender,” Dutton said. “We worked alongside Stockton students, faculty and staff to respectfully display the clothes (or a likeness of what they wore during the attack) and a brief summary of the assault. The survivors who contributed to this display found the exercise to be empowering to them and became part of the healing process.”
In addition, the WGSC has partnered with student organizations for interactive and informative events surrounding sexual assault awareness, such as April 18’s “Sex Rules” lecture with Student Development, Coalition for Women’s Rights, Victimology Organization, Queer and Trans People of Color Society, Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council.
“The program educated and empowered students to understand safe sex practices, interactions and exploration,” Dutton said. “’Sex Rules’ trained students to understand and recognize all forms of sexual violence, along with proper methods for healing or helping survivors who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct.”
Haley Baum, assistant vice president for Student Advocacy, Belonging and Campus Standards & Dean of Students, was amazed to see how engaged students have been in the continued dialogue of sexual assault awareness all bolstered by the collaborative work that the university has engaged in.
“It is amazing to see all the diverse, intentional and engaging programs and opportunities for prevention and education that the team has put together,” Baum shared.
“There are so many powerful connections to be drawn between SAAM, the work of Stockton’s WGSC, the Clery Center, Title IX and intersectionality of trauma and tragedy and survivorship. The theme of prevention demands equity reinforces this and highlights not only the importance of SAAM but of creating brave spaces for all students, faculty and staff to be part of the conversation around proactive education and prevention strategies."
Upcoming Events for SAAM
The programming will continue through April with events such as a viewing of “The Invisible War” and “Wear Denim Day” on Wednesday, April 26, and the “Healing Through Art” Exhibition through Friday, April 28.
“The Invisible War” features interviews with veterans from multiple branches of the United States Armed Forces who recount the events surrounding their assaults. Their stories show many common themes, such as the lack of recourse to an impartial justice system, reprisals against survivors instead of against perpetrators, the absence of adequate emotional and physical care for survivors, the unhindered advancement of perpetrators' careers, and the forced expulsion of survivors from service. The film screening is one of many collaborations between the WGSC and the Office of Military and Veteran Services and will be screened in F-111 at 12:30 p.m.
“Wear Denim Day” is a universal campaign in honor of SAAM. Dutton shared that the campaign began in Italy after their Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction due to the victim wearing tight jeans, which “implied” consent to sexual activity.
“The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim,” Dutton said. “Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, what started as a local campaign to bring awareness to victim blaming and destructive myths that surround sexual violence has grown into a movement.”
Students across all campuses are encouraged to wear denim on April 26 and to share their photos with @StocktonWGSC on Instagram.
The “Healing Through Art” exhibition began on Monday, April 24, and will conclude with an open discussion with the artists on Friday, April 28 in F-111 from 3-5 p.m.
“We do this work in memory of all those who are no longer with us, those who need advocacy, those who need our care,” said Baum, who was recently appointed to the Clery Center’s inaugural National Advisory Council.
The Clery Center works with colleges and universities to create safer campuses and follow the guidelines of the Jeanne Clery Act.
Spotlight On: Haley Baum
“There are so many powerful connections to be drawn between SAAM, the work of Stockton’s WGSC, the Clery Center, Title IX and intersectionality of trauma and tragedy and survivorship. The theme of prevention demands equity reinforces this and highlights not only the importance of SAAM but of creating brave spaces for all students, faculty and staff to be part of the conversation around proactive education and prevention strategies. So that students like Jeanne and all the many others, can be here with us and not just as a memory.”
– Story by Loukaia Taylor