A Preview Of Consent Week at SMC
Starting on Monday, April 23, Santa Monica College will hold ‘consent week’ - several events in recognition of April being the National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Throughout the week, multiple events will be held that will give voices to sexual violence survivors as well as giving information and resources on prevention methods. From Monday to Wednesday, each day will revolve around a specific theme.
In order to put these events together, Rebecca Weiland, a Title IX deputy at SMC in Academic Affairs, has been working with various organizations on campus, such as the Title IX department and the Associated Students. A state grant just shy of $42,000 was given to the school earlier in the month specifically for spreading awareness on the issue of sexual harassment on and off the campus.
“It is really about breaking the silence. It’s been a really big year for this topic, especially in entertainment, in Hollywood, where survivors are feeling more empowered to come forward,” Weiland said. “Breaking the silence and challenging some of the stigma, the myths, surrounding these issues is really changing that culture.”
On Monday, the theme is "Speaking out." There will be a clothesline project at 11 a.m., which will allow survivors to decorate a shirt and hang it up next to the quad on campus to create an art installation that aims to spread awareness. Differently-colored shirts will represent the variety of ways that sexual abuse exists which range from verbal to physical assault. This project has been put on by many schools around the nation, including UCLA.
Later that day at 6 p.m., the football field will hold a candlelit vigil, where speakers who have been affected by sexual assault will share their stories.
The school has been holding consent week for several years now and for Tuesday, a new event was created for the day’s theme of "Support." At 11:15 a.m., there will be a White Ribbon project where people can pledge to, “Never commit, excuse or stay silent about male violence towards women.” Those who take the pledge will be given a white ribbon to wear throughout the day.
Weiland says that one of the key aspects of the day is to acknowledge male allies, and at 12 p.m., people can grab a pair of high heels and walk through the quad to show solidarity.
Finally, at on Wednesday at 11 a.m., in the theme of celebration, people can gather around the quad wearing denim to show support. Denim Day, the last Wednesday of the month, is commemorated internationally after an infamous 1998 court case, when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the judges believed that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have consented to sex with her rapist.
“We’ve come a long way from that court date in 1998,” Weiland said. “Now, it would be laughable for anyone to say, ‘She was wearing jeans,’ so this is a day of celebration and a day of honoring the history and all the work that’s been put in to now be in this place in history.”
Ana Laura Paiva, director of student assistance for the A.S., has been helping to promote the week. “It could happen to guys or girls, it happens, it’s bringing awareness,” Paiva said. “Let’s end this, let’s be in support of our survivors, of our strong students and let’s ensure all of us are educated.”
The school has been putting in efforts to prevent sexual assault, including in-class training, which will soon be available online. Students can also use LiveSafe, a phone app made available in the 2017 fall semester that allows users to text the police, report suspicious activity, and request campus police escort.