This article is part of an ongoing series examining the support system available on campus and in the community for students who have experienced sexual assault. The next article will look at the student organizations and clubs on campus.
Fans attending the basketball game on Feb. 25 might have noticed a splash of purple. The game was a purple-out in hon- or of February, sexual violence prevention and awareness month. As the month draws to a close, “Among Friends” has reached its third installment, focusing on the ones that sponsored the purple-out: students
Over the years, several different organizations have sprung up on campus to help students deal with sexual assault, domestic violence and depression. Others have served as a visible bridge between the school and the community’s services, donating their time and raising funds and student awareness.
Lauren Griffin, the president of Women’s Advocacy Club, said that she has seen a marked difference in the way sexual assault is treated throughout her college years.
“It is good though, to see from my freshman year to my junior year, how society is taking a taboo label off sexual assault and rape, especially on college campuses,” Griffin said.
The Women’s Advocacy Club is entering its fourth year, with club members of both sexes taking an active part on cam- pus. It may be most well known for its April Clothesline Project, which deco- rates the walkway near the bandshell with t-shirts bearing the stories of survivors, as well as statistics.
On a less visible level, the club is also a place for students to talk. Although Just Ask is becoming more present on campus, Griffin said it can still be difficult for a student to go to an authority figure. As such, some have turned to Women’s Advocacy.
“I’ve had a lot of people come to me and confide in me, not really knowing what to do and not knowing who to go to,” Griffin said. “They’re scared. It’s just a very traumatizing process, and there’s not really a right answer.”
Griffin like the school, is not required to report what students say if they just want to talk. She said that she is happy that she can point students in the direction of resources, but she cannot take away the pain that they are feeling.
“That might be the hardest part: seeing these people that are in so much pain and wanting to help them, but then healing is healing and it happens on its own time and you can’t give someone a timeline of when they’ll stop thinking about it every single day,” Griffin said.
For students who are experiencing depression, there are other places to go, such as the FSC branch of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). While the nation- al organization does not deal in sexual assault specifically, it helps those experiencing depression to seek treatment.
Catherine Tinker, TWLOHA’s president, said that she hopes the club can create an environment where students can talk about what is going on in their lives.
“People still need that safe space to know that people go through these things and it’s okay if you’re not okay,” Tinker said.
Both organizations have hosted every- thing from bake sales to festivals around campus. Other organizations have been a bit more unconventional. Fashion fans might remember the “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event where men and women alike modeled heels, which this year is taking place in April. Unlike the other two organizations discussed thus far, the organization hosting the event is not a student-led club: it is a sorority.
Although Alpha Chi Omega’s national philanthropy is domestic abuse, they also promote healthy relationships. In the past Alpha Chi Omega has teamed up with members of the FSC community, leading to the purple-out basketball game on Feb. 25, done with the Student Government Association.
Like Griffin, Duwe is cheered by how much more aware the campus has become over the years.
“The awareness has definitely gotten around on campus,” said Taylor Duwe, president of Alpha Chi Omega. “I think it’s definitely something people don’t want to talk about. I think it’s just one of those things in society that not everyone is comfortable talking about if they’ve been affected by it.”
Getting involved can have different motivators. While Duwe has never had a personal experience linking her to her philanthropy, she still decided to get involved through her sorority. For Griffin, the decision to get involved was spurred on by a case in Steubenville, Ohio, where a 16-year-old was raped and images of the attack were traded on social media.
Unlike Griffin and Duwe, it was Tinker’s personal experiences with depression that led her to TWLOHA. During her senior year of high school Tinker said that for some reason or another she “fell out of herself.” She put whatever energy had into schoolwork so no one would think that anything was wrong, but confesses that there were some weekends where she would not leave her bed.
Tinker did not open up about how she felt until the night she went to a TWLOHA concert. Now feels that she is in a better place and hopes to raise awareness and help others.
No matter how the three got involved, or what their organization, the impact can be felt on campus, from bake sales, shirts blowing in the breeze and purple-tinted sporting events.