April 9, workshops, a panel and a march took place on the UW Tacoma and the University of Puget Sound campuses to close out a week-long awareness campaign highlighting sexual violence and domestic abuse.
Oscar Trinidad, president of the Criminal Justice League, thought that the two campuses working together allowed to make the event larger.
“What happened this year was that the University of Puget Sound reached out to us and wanted to do a collaboration,” Trinidad said. “Through them we came up with contracts and were able to fly speakers out here.”
Many resources were necessary according to Trinidad.
“A cross campus collaboration is rather difficult to do, but this was a rather larger event,” Trinidad said. “UWT alone couldn’t pull this off. There’s no way with the funds we have and the resources that we could’ve done this. I don’t think UPS could have done it by themselves either.”
The events come after UWT’s annual Clothesline Project — a visual display of T-shirts with messages written on them by survivors of abuse and their allies. The T-shirts that were hung along the Tioga sky bridge and from the Garretson Woodruff & Pratt building to the Joy building were displayed to create awareness around issues involving sexual assault and other forms of violence.
“Having the event right at the end of the Clothesline is huge,” Trinidad said. “All of the workshops are around sexual assault and violence. Having the buildup of the Clotheslines and having it be expanded made it to where we are able to promote Take Back the Night.”
Tina Goelz, president of the Student Social Work Organization, said that the Clothesline Project and the events that followed were meant to reach a range of people.
“It is so important to bring awareness to our community and especially on a college campus because [violence] happens on college campuses as well,” Goelz said. “The workshops are there for survivors or allies or pretty much anybody to learn more about domestic violence and vulnerability.”
According to Trinidad, the workshops may have attracted members of groups that are subject to feeling left out of the conversation about sexual violence and assault. One demographic that Trinidad hoped the workshops would bring in were males.
“The workshops are for those students who might be hesitant to come in, participate and create shirts,” said Trinidad. “I have had hesitation from male students that want to make a shirt, but say ‘I am not sure how to do this.’ I think that having workshops that apply to that demographic is huge. I’m rather excited, obviously being a male, about the male justice in power. That’s what I am trying to do.”
The workshop being referred to by Trinidad was called Recruiting More Men’s Voices against Sexual Violence, one of two workshops that followed the Clothesline Project. This presentation was led by Gordon Braxton who spoke about how to engage more men in conversations, prevention and other work involving sexual violence.
Braxton discussed the attitudes surrounding men and sexual violence.
“We need to get more men involved in this issue,” Braxton said.
He stressed the importance of having men speak up because of their role within our culture and the power of hearing from a male perspective to disrupt the status quo.
“We have to keep in mind that men are uniquely qualified to challenge bias,” Braxton said.
Braxton left the audience with another takeaway message: as a community, we need to work together to actively recruit and hear from men.
“It’s important to have a safe space, kind of a home base,” Braxton said. “I encourage you if you don’t have a group now, to create or get into a peer education program.”
Trinidad also said that UWT students have voiced concerns about the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. He hopes that those that have raised concerns attended the workshops, too.
“We have a shirt that says, ‘Where’s the conversation on the LBGTQ+ community?’ They’re still victims of this,” Trinidad said. “I hope whoever made this shirt comes to the workshop.”
The second workshop that Trinidad is referring to is called Girls Don’t Rape and Boys Don’t Get Raped: Say What? The workshop offered in conjunction with Braxton’s workshop focused on how those who are not heterosexual are affected by sexual violence. The presenter of the workshop, Courtney Drew, had discussions about the intersectionality of gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual assault.
“The capital T truth is that sexual violence happens in all communities,” Drew said. “It’s not distinguished into just one community, into just one gender identity, into one sexual orientation. The other capital T truth is that it is truly never the victim’s fault.”
Drew also addressed the statistics that reflect the challenges that marginalized groups face.
“LGBTQ people face systemic and historical oppression that leads to the factors being higher for those individuals and they also experience additional barriers in seeking out resources,” Drew said. “It’s not just LGBTQ folks who have increased and disproportionately experience sexual violence. It’s any marginalized community because every marginalized community, at least in the United States, has experienced this systemic oppression and this historic weight.”
In the final part of the presentation, Drew spoke about the “Queer method” of being allies to help sexual assault survivors.
“Always start by questioning your assumptions,” said Drew. “Understand. Always focus on the needs of who you are working with and talking to and thinking about what they need from you, not what we think they need. Empower and educate. Remember that we are not superheroes so it is OK to refer elsewhere.”
The first two events were held at the University Y. A third and final workshop led by Katie Koestner took place on the UWT campus: Working with the Accused AND Balancing a Victim-Centered Response. The workshop introduced personal stories and cases. It also included training that addressed issues that may be overlooked in sexual assault cases such as working with non-male respondents and working with technology-related misconduct.
The events were then moved over to the University of Puget Sound where there was a panel discussion, a march, and a rally.
The panel was called Your Voice Has Power — All Voices Have Power. Here Drew, Braxton and Koestner spoke about including all voices in awareness, prevention and response to sexual assault. This was followed up by a Q&A session between the speakers and the audience.
The night ended with the Take Back the Night march and rally where survivors and allies walked together to raise awareness to all forms of sexual violence and the fight to end it.