February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 39°F


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Film screenings, photo campaigns and a community march are some of the events the Ithaca College chapter of Students Active For Ending Rape are holding for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Observed in April, SAAM is a national campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about sexual assault. National recognition of SAAM began in April 2001, after advocates and educators spent years coordinating activities and events. SAAM has been observed every year since then.

The Clothesline Project is a way to raise awareness about what is really happening to people, Jesse Maeshiro, copresident of SAFER, said.

“The project bears witness to the violence that has happened to these people, but it also allows for expression and a form of healing, as well as raises awareness about the issues of domestic abuse and sexual violence,” Maeshiro said. “It’s something that really catches people’s eye as they come by and see it and leave these messages.”

One of the first events, The Clothesline Project, was held April 3 in front of Emerson Suites. Victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault decorated a T-shirt and wrote messages on the shirts, which were then displayed and hung up together.

In addition to The Clothesline Project, on Tuesday SAFER hosted the “Who Are You?” campaign, which is a New Zealand campaign about bystander intervention, Maeshiro said. There will be a screening of a short film and a discussion led by a member of the Advocacy Center.

Later this month, there will be a screening of a documentary about sexual violence in the military, called “The Invisible War,” on April 16 and a march called Take Back the Night on April 26. Students from the college will meet two other groups from the Ithaca community and Cornell down at De Witt Park and take a stand against sexual violence.

Freshman Jessie Braverman, SAFER treasurer, said the group will be doing a photo campaign prior to Take Back the Night.

“We will have people holding whiteboards explaining why they are taking back the night, what personal reasons they have for participating in Taking Back the Night and why it’s important to them,” said Braverman.

Nancy Reynolds, program director for the Center for Health Promotion, said SAAM is also an opportunity to educate people on sexual assault and how to prevent it.

“We need to remind the community that rapists are the only ones who can truly prevent rape, so we need to target more of our messages to the perpetrators,” Reynolds said.

Discussion about sexual assault is critical, and SAFER wants to change people’s mentalities of sexual violence.

“People perpetuate this idea that rape only occurs in certain kinds of situations or certain kinds of scenarios, but rape can happen anywhere to anyone, definitely within the Ithaca community,” Maeshiro said.

Braverman said SAFER is just a group of students who feel comfortable enough to talk about tough topics and try and figure out ways to take action and fight rape culture.

“Rape is often a subject that people find really hard to talk about, which is completely understandable,” Braverman said. “SAFER creates a safe space for students to come together and discuss these topics and discuss rape culture and why rape exists.”