This April marks the 22nd official Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Ramapo began its observance on Monday with an opening proclamation in the Grove. Attendees were treated to cupcakes and had the opportunity to sign The Ramapledge, which is a pledge created by the Student Government Association and Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) to take a stand against all forms of violence on campus.
In preparation for the opening proclamation and programs for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wall and Assistant Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Coordinator of the OVP Marie-Danielle Attis sent an email on March 31 with a PowerPoint presentation called “Consent Culture Refresher” and the numbers for Counseling Services and resource centers like healingSPACE.
“We are all responsible for upholding a healthy and positive community and to object when one witnesses activity that runs counter to our values of mutual respect and dignity for all. As April approaches, we are grateful for the teams of faculty, staff, students, and external partners who will join us in programming to erase all forms of violence from our campus,” the email said.
Coordinator for the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services Alex Woods came up to the podium first to introduce President Cindy Jebb and explain the flow of the event. Quoting the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, she said April is a time to “call on all individuals, communities, organizations and systems surrounding us to do whatever it takes to end sexual harassment, assault and abuse.”
In her opening proclamation, Jebb said the theme this year for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” Citing statistics from the FBI, she highlighted some of the inequity marginalized groups experience when it comes to sexual assault rates, like how 47% of transgender women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
Students also came up to the podium to read poems from survivors of sexual assault. The poems were “Butterflies,” “I Want to Own My Pain” and “In Stunned Silence.” All three poems were about the experience of sexual assault and the desire to empower oneself and other survivors.
The opening proclamation ended with a rundown of the various events planned for the month. The two biggest events are The Clothesline Project and Denim Day. The Clothesline Project will take place on April 12 at noon in the Grove and students will have the opportunity to create a t-shirt to support survivors of sexual violence and hang it up outside. Denim Day closes out the month’s programming on April 26 and is a denim fashion show where participants wear denim to show their support for victims of sexual abuse. Both events are annual.
Other notable events include the RAINN Day Social Media Campaign on April 12 for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a sexual assault resource center and campus partner, and Yoga in the Yard on April 20 where attendees will practice self-care by doing yoga on the lawn of Birch Mansion.
For more information, visit OVP’s website or Archway page.
Featured photo by Matthew Wikfors