By: Diego Huaman
ASUCI’s Executive Vice President office began their month of action featuring a weeklong series of presentations and workshops addressing the theme of consent as part of their “Carry That Weight” campaign, intending to raise and spread awareness of sexual assault and sexual assault prevention. On Thursday, February 5, the EVP office hosted a presentation entitled “Yes Means Yes” in Emerald Bay C.
“The reason the Executive Vice President’s office puts on events about sexual assault is because we as a campus must do our full part to acknowledge the daily reality for survivors on this campus,” said Executive Vice President Sanaa. “There are so many students at UC Irvine who either have been assaulted or have experienced sexual violence.”
In the presentation, EVP Assistant Commissioner of Campus Organizing Mira Sahakyan addressed problems, actions and solutions regarding rape culture on college campuses. The workshop gave students examples of what consent looks like, and what it does not look like.
“Students will be able to help to change college campuses from rape culture to consent culture. The Associated Student Body cannot do it alone but rather we all must come together to create a safe learning and growing environment for everyone,” Sahakyan said.
Additionally, her presentation provided information regarding the CA Senate Bill 967, also known as the “Yes Means Yes” consent bill. In order to be financed by the state, the bill requires college campuses in California to investigate all reported cases of sexual violence. Overall, the bill aims address the topic of consent. The bill states “It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity.”
In order to address the concern of garnering interest from the general student body and increase participation rates each workshop, screening and speaker is made available on campus and readily accessible for students. Events are held in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Other workshops held during the first week of the Carry the Weight campaign were a presentation on bystander intervention by the CARE office’s all-female identified peer education group, Right to KNOW. The CARE Commission also held a discussion and delineation of socially constructed consent, how it’s different from the legal construction of consent, like with the “Yes Means Yes” Bill, and why it is important for foster a culture of consent rather than the rapeculture so common on our campus and in the media.
A liaison between the CARE office and ASUCI, the CARE Commission is tasked with campus-wide programming engaging students on the missions of the CARE office to bring awareness about the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (included but not limited to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, dating abuse, stalking and harassment) on campus.
“The CARE Commission provides educational resources and support for the Carry The Weight campaign. Whatever type of discussion or topic EVP would like to open up, the CARE Commission constructs an interactive and robust outline for that workshop or discussion,” said CARE Commissioner, Tess Andrea.
Organized to educate students and general public at UCI, the workshop elaborated both upon the purpose and mission of the “Carry that Weight” campaign and also Governor Brown’s “Yes Means Yes” bill signed into law in September of 2014. Originally, the “Carry That Weight Campaign” campaign began as a protest from a student at Columbia University, who was raped in her college dorm room.
This past summer, the United States Student Association (USSA), the largest and oldest national student association in the nation, decided to include sexual assault awareness on their action agenda items for this school year. Besides being a member of USSA, UCI has students from ASUCI who serve as board members within the organization itself.
“With help and inspiration from the Columbia student’s story, we were able to put together this month of action,” Mira Sahakyan said. “Our campus wide campaign will extend into the end of week 8. In the coming weeks, more events and workshops will be held in future as a part of the campaign.”
Throughout the coming weeks ASUCI is additionally offering students resources at the “Carry That Weight” booth located near the student center. There will also be a screening of MissRepresentation, a movie discussing the misrepresentation of women in the media along with a group of comprised of speakers and panelists.
“The student body is one of the most important aspects of this campaign,” said Sahakyan, “As the voice of the students at UCI, we must deal with this campaign in a serious and professional matter in order to be able to strike interest in other students to take action and create a chain reaction of events, allowing the campaign to spread farther than ever before.”