We Too Must Unite Against Sexual Assault
Unfortunately, sexual assault affects our community like it does any other. That is why it is imperative for our university to have a club that brings education and awareness to the forefront and eventually eradicate this issue from our campus. Forming Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) was the first step towards these goals. The inspiration for SASA was sparked last spring when I attended a workshop for Education majors, led by the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology, Dr. David Pelcovitz, about understanding and preventing child abuse.
To me, it seemed that the material Dr. Pelcovitz shared was basic, yet, it was relevant to more than just the future educators who attended the lecture. Dr. Pelcovitz mostly spoke about the signs of abuse to be aware of, signs that anyone can look out for. Many of us have heard parts of what he said, maybe in a counselor orientation or an employment training course, but after hearing it all together, I thought to myself “Why is this only for education majors? Why is this critical information that pertains to everyone not shared with all the university’s students?”
Further inspiration was taken from “YU and Stern Confessions” Facebook posts I read last spring that were related to both childhood and recent sexual assault. There was one post in particular that was written by a woman who had been assaulted and still saw her attacker around campus. After reading this post, I knew we needed to address the existence of sexual assault on campus. I approached my friend Rivky Wigder (SCW ‘19), who I know is passionate about the issue, and asked her to organize an event together.
With assistance from the Office of Student Life, we were able to run a panel discussion titled “Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Abuse,” a self-defense workshop, a poster contest to raise awareness for sexual assault and most recently, a panel discussing Title IX policy at YU.
I think that many students do not realize the extent to which sexual assault affects our community. Whether a student knows it or not, they likely know someone who was assaulted, whether it be a close friend, a fellow student or a family member. Sexual assault is more prevalent than we realize. While the statistics show that women are victims of sexual assault more often than their male counterparts, men experience rape and sexual assault at alarming rates, rates that are even higher on college campuses.
It can be hard for a survivor, especially one in our community, to recognize that they are not the only one suffering. Therefore, a primary goal in creating SASA is to send the message to the students at YU who may be dealing with sexual assault that they are not alone. Clubs are not formed to serve a need that is only relevant to a handful of people, so when a student sees that there is an entire club devoted to combating sexual assault, it sends the message that there are others out there suffering from similar issues. It sends a message to survivors and their supporters alike that they matter and that there are resources and support available to them.
SASA exists as a means to direct students to professional support and resources. We do not claim to have any professional experience or knowledge, but we are a passionate group of students whose role is to educate the student body on issues pertaining to sexual assault and to direct survivors to resources that can help them.
I am grateful for everyone that supported this club along the way and to the incredibly capable board that will take over the leadership. I look forward to seeing all that SASA continues to contribute, and I thank all of you for joining the fight against sexual assault, both in the world at large and within our YU community.
Photo Caption: Students Against Sexual Assault Logo
Photo Credit: Devora T