Penn State’s Center for Women Students will be co-hosting of events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.
“This follows a national sexual assault awareness month,” Jennifer Pencek said. “Having a month of programming allows people who aren’t as aware or as involved to have a focused time to learn about this issue.”
“End Rape on Campus” will be the first event held this month. The keynote talk will feature Annie Clark and Andrea Pino speaking about their organization, End Rape on Campus, as well as their personal experiences.
Pencek, a programming coordinator of the Center for Women Students, said Clark and Pino have always been on a list of speakers CWS has wanted to bring to Penn State because of their work and presence in the documentary, “The Hunting Ground.”
She also said this event is important because people should always try to further their knowledge and hear other’s stories.
“I think it’s really important for people to always remember that even if they think they know all there is to know about sexual assault, Title IX and people’s rights, there’s always room to learn more,” Pencek said. “I think it’s also important to hear people’s stories because that gives others power, which is great.”
“Honoring Survival: Transforming the Spirit” will be held the week after End Rape on Campus. This annual event, co-hosted by CWS and Centre County Women’s Resource Center, acts as a “give-back” to survivors and their families, friends and supporters.
Pencek said it’s a way for survivors of all forms of interpersonal violence and their loved ones to have an opportunity to speak about their story.
Lindsey Faussette, director of outreach and education at CCWRC, said it’s important to not only acknowledge survivors within the community, but to stand in solidarity and say all of them should be supported and honored.
“The event is really somewhere where we open up space for survivors to get support and know that there’s other people in the community who have experienced the same thing,” Faussette, said. “As an organization that works with survivors all the time, we think it’s really important to provide a safe space where they can do that, whether they be public about their story or just attend the event.”
“More Than a Pretty Face: Challenging the Objectification of Women” will follow “Honoring Survival.” This event, co-hosted by CWS and Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate and Empower, will explore the objectification of women in media as well as how women start to self-objectify and the consequences of such.
Erin Farley said the idea for the event came from the need to make the connection between sexual violence in the community and rape culture. She said by objectifying a person, it becomes much easier for someone to disrespect and violate a person’s body.
Anna Jantz said this event is important because she has hopes that it will teach and influence young women on how to better perceive themselves.
“I think about this a lot with my own experience growing up and I feel like I’m always still balancing those little comments I hear in the back of my head,” Jantz, a graduate assistant at CWS, said. “If I can help people question that little voice in the back of their head and leave a more confident person then I know I’m doing my job because that is something I, myself, have struggled with.”
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is the last event CWS will be co-costing this April. Farley, a programming coordinator of CWS, said this event is a call to men in the community to come out a take a stand against sexual violence. This walk consists of male participants walking in high heels to symbolize the idea that “you can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Farley said this event is important because historically, sexual assault has been seen as a “woman’s issue,” however it is something that affects everyone and therefore, men need to be involved as well.
“Events like this allow men the opportunity to take a visible stance and say sexual assault isn’t okay with us, and that this is something we want to raise awareness about,” Farley said.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is co-hosted by CWS and Men Against Violence. John Broderick, lead undergraduate program coordinator of MAV, said he feels it is very hard to talk about sexual violence on the Penn State campus and that this event is a good step in starting the conversation.
“I personally got involved with Men Against Violence because I believe sexual violence is a man’s issue,” Broderick (senior-economics) said. “This event is a way to show the community that we are not afraid to speak up about this issue on our campus and that we are ready to tackle this problem head-on. Publicly showing our support for sexual violence victims is one of the simplest ways to get the conversation started.”