The College is observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month – which begins with the National Day of Action on Tuesday, April 6 – with a number of events under the theme of “U & Me,” a reminder that all members of the Union community have a responsibility to avert and eradicate sexual violence and harassment.
“Our programs this month are designed to engage students and employees who occupy different spaces on campus, with different life experiences, and who hold different identities,” says Mary Simeoli, Title IX coordinator and interim director of Equal Opportunity. “Sexual violence is a worldwide epidemic, and Union College is not excluded from its reach.”
“It takes all of us,” says Simeoli. “In the places and spaces where we work, learn and socialize, we have opportunities to educate, intervene, shift social culture, normalize reporting and create a culture where getting consent before engaging in any sexual activity is always expected and ‘no’ is always respected.”
The College’s Office of Title IX has teamed with a range of campus organizations to present events including:
April 20, 6 p.m. – A talk by Angela Exson, a national leader in interpersonal violence prevention. She will also present a fireside chat on April 21 co-sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Affairs, Caribbean Student Association and Black Student Union. Register in advance for this webinar:
April 29, 6 p.m. – A talk by author, educator and activist Tony Porter, a leading voice on the intersection of masculinity and violence against women. Porter is the co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, which offers resources aimed at promoting healthy, respectful manhood. His talk is co-sponsored by the Interfraternity Council and Athletics. Register in advance for this webinar:
Both talks are open to the Union community.
To get involved in Sexual Assault Awareness Month:
- Wear teal, the official national awareness color, and let others know why. Post a selfie with the hashtags #SAAM2021 or #UandMETIX.
- Wear denim and change your Zoom background to one of the official Union-branded, denim-themed images for Denim Day 2021, which calls attention to victim blaming. To download the Denim Day Zoom backgrounds, visit here.
- Follow the Office of Title IX on Instagram, @uniontitleix.
- Review local resources for sexual violence including emergency services, mental and emotional support and legal services.
- Donate to the YWCA of Eastern New York or Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which, in partnership with Union, serve as free, confidential resources for students who have experienced gender-based misconduct.
- Request a training or educational program for your club, organization, team or department.
- Visit the Title IX website to learn about resources, support services, community policies and procedures.
- Take the HEDS survey. Students will receive the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey in April. The anonymous survey provides valuable information to the College for addressing sexual assault. (HEDS is an independent organization that collects and shares data to advance undergraduate liberal arts education.)
The first nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month was coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in 2001. April was officially proclaimed as SAAM eight years later. Denim Day grew out of a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim, an 18-year-old assaulted by her 45-year old male driving instructor, wore tight jeans. Women in the Italian Parliament expressed their outrage by wearing jeans to work. In the U.S., the first Denim Day was organized in 1999 by Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. Worldwide, the annual event involves more than 12 million people.