Members of “Challenging All Men to Prevent Sexism” (CHAMPS) encouraged men to take a pledge against sexual assault during their yearly White Ribbon Campaign from Nov. 19-21.
With this event being one of CHAMPS’s first and main campaigns of the quarter, all members were required to help out with the three-day campaign by conversing with people who came by their booth and sharing with them how to get involved.
Along with brochures and pens, a wall featured the portraits of different men across campus that made the pledge to own up to their responsibility. Behind their portraits were also their own personal, handwritten testimonials explaining why they decided to make the pledge and words about women in their life who have made a positive impact on them. Those who came by the booth were also given a white ribbon sticker and pin to signify the pledge that they made, as well as to serve as a reminder to themselves of the life-long oath that they have made.
The White Ribbon Campaign originated in Canada and started from one person’s idea and passion to educate men to become more aware of their role in preventing sexual assault.
“Men oftentimes only see themselves as perpetrators and they don’t participate in helping to prevent it,” Boss Polvieng, a second-year student and first-year CHAMP member, said.
He claims that their main goal is to simply get other men to see that they, too, can make a difference and to encourage them to take an active role.
“As long as we can get one or two people to participate in it, it’ll be worth it,” he said.
Through this campaign, the members of CHAMPS are able to pass on knowledge to fellow UCI peers, as well as encourage others to join in on this partnership to spread awareness on the reality behind sexual assault.
“The White Ribbon Campaign is significant because it’s a campaign started by men to urge other men to never commit or condone violence against women,” Phuc Pham, a third-year literary journalism major, said. “This falls directly in line with CHAMPS’s mission of challenging men to prevent sexism.
“This year, we’ve re-appropriated the ‘violence against women’ part to include all gender-based violence in an effort to be respectful of different gender identities.”
CHAMPS is a branch under the CARE (Campus Assault Resources & Education) office, and they work together to address the problem of sexual assault in the UCI community. Throughout the year, CHAMPS provides resources such as workshops to dormitories or other on-campus clubs. All members of CHAMPS have gone through selective interviewing processes and have received training from local community professionals, as well as their own personally assigned mentors, in order to form a strong community of men who are founded on the same values and beliefs.
Carlos Martinez, fifth-year student and second-year member of CHAMPS, has been taking an active role in helping facilitate workshops in both Middle Earth and Mesa Court in order to inform freshmen of sexual assault and the measures in which they can take to actively fight against it.
“Although main victims may be women, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a men’s issue or that they can’t take a role in creating a safe environment for them,” he said.
CHAMPS members take a year-long course with supervisor Zabie Khorakiwala where they learn skills from facilitating workshops through different resources all across Orange County, to learning how to further develop their own workshops hosted here on the UCI campus.
In response to how Martinez became involved with CHAMPS, he said, “I didn’t know much about the CARE office and the services they provide. And I doubt that others know much about it as well.”
Martinez started off as a coordinator for the V.I.P. (Violence Intervention & Prevention) program, an organization made up of UCI students who are heavily involved in the Greek community and who have a desire to address issues that involve any form of domestic violence to the campus.
This program not only creates awareness to the Greek life at UCI, but also allows other Greeks to come together as a community to educate their fellow Greek chapter members on the importance of these issues. V.I.P. was an outlet for Martinez that eventually led him to get involved with CHAMPS and believes that it served as an important stepping-stone that brought him to where he is now.
CARE’s annual Take Back the Night program, which will be held later in spring, is another means to bring about awareness through a more artistic and creative approach. Survivors who have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives will be paired up with an artist who will help capture their story in a way that can be shared with others, whether it is a photoshoot, painting, spoken word, song or any other form of art that will best portray the survivor’s story.
Pham also said CHAMPS plans to host its first Survivor’s Panel, which will include survivors of sexual assault. He said students will be able to listen to stories to be aware of the personal consequences behind crimes that are often overlooked.
Through these various events hosted by CHAMPS and their partners in CARE, they hope to achieve only one thing: to simply create awareness amongst the UCI community.