In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, The Women’s Center and the Peers Learning Educating and Supporting Everyone (P.L.E.A.S.E) will be holding events the week of April 23 to April 27.
For those who are not aware, the P.L.E.A.S.E program is a group of students who focus on educating the University of Rhode Island community about stalking, sexual and relationship violence. P.L.E.A.S.E members also teach the URI 101 classes in the fall about these topics.
Hannah Woodhouse, the program coordinator for the P.L.E.A.S.E program, has been working on this with the help of P.L.E.A.S.E members and the Women’s Center since last semester.
The events kick off Monday April 23 with Teal Day. Teal is the color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This day is dedicated to getting as many people to wear teal to recognize the issue at hand.
Tuesday, the Women’s Center and P.L.E.A.S.E has set up a conversation group with the Gender and Sexuality Center from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. regarding LGBTQ identities and sexual violence. They encourage other members of the URI community to come join the discussion.
Denim Day will be held on Wednesday. Stemming from a case in Italy, this day is dedicated to international awareness against victim blaming. In 1992, a woman in Italy was assaulted by her driving instructor. The case was thrown out because it was decided that her jeans were so tight, she must have given consent. Woodhouse says Denim Day is, “an international campaign of solidarity that falls on the last Wednesday of every April.”
To show their support for this day, P.L.E.A.S.E members will be holding a booth in the Memorial Union wearing jeans and handing out denim ribbons.
There will be two events that take place on Thursday. There is a Consent Tea event that focuses on the “Tea Consent” video that explains the importance of consent using animations. Rachel Brian, the creator and animator of the video, will host a workshop on how to collaborate art and activism. At this event, attendees will also be making signs for the “Take Back The Night” protest on the quad that Thursday night.
Take Back The Night is another national campaign that started with the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This event consists of groups across the country marching to protest victim blaming, sexual assault and violence against women. Woodhouse says, “We’ve been doing it for a couple years now and I feel like every year I’ve been involved with it, it increases in size and just gets more recognized every year. So we’re hoping this one will be even bigger and better.”
Thursday night events start at 6 p.m. in Swan Hall with Anna Lacroix as the keynote speaker. Lacroix is an eighth grader who did a TED Talk here at URI regarding sexual assault prevention education. Woodhouse reached out to Lacroix because she says, “I love seeing youth getting involved with missions they’re really passionate about. Which is why I love working with P.L.E.A.S.E too.”
At 7 p.m. the march kicks off. After Take Back The Night, a Feminist Art Night will be held on Friday. This is an event that Woodhouse started a couple of years ago because of her interest in both art and activism.
“What I think is interesting is seeing what other people bring to the table from that respect.” Woodhouse said. “Overall, it is a night of solidarity and a lovely way to end such a hectic week of programming.”
Feminist Art Night will be held at the Gender and Sexuality Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be live music, slam poetry accompanied by visual arts.
P.L.E.A.S.E and the Women’s Center are hoping to get as many people involved as possible to show full support for sexual assault awareness. Not only are these events going to be fun and informative, but they will also be helpful for victims seeking guidance. Woodhouse mentioned that after these events, P.L.E.A.S.E members can be used as a tool to get victims on the right path to reporting their experience or just talking to a professional.
“P.L.E.A.S.E members have the education to really help other students and maybe that isn’t recognized as much as it could be,” said P.L.E.A.S.E. member Emily Redman. “I don’t know what other organization could really help foster an environment that is going to help in that type of situation.”
All these events are free and open to the public.
“We would definitely love for people to come join the conversation, express solidarity and get some support if they need it,” Woodhouse said.
For more information, contact Woodhouse at email@example.com.