Why Not Us and Allegheny Student Government partnered together to sponsor a pledge signing ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 6 in the fight to end rape culture in an event held in the Henderson Campus Center lobby.
“This pledge is a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault,” the pledge read. “It is a promise to not be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.”
Recognize, identify, intervene and create are four key words the pledge stands by. The pledge asks students to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
The goal of the pledge is to create conversation surrounding rape culture and for people to no longer be bystanders, but to follow through and create a safe environment, said Tage Bogges, ’20, Attorney General of Why Not Us.
“We’re trying to stop the social stigma associated with sexual assault,” Bogges said.
After signing the pledge, each card was attached to a blackboard at the entrance of the Henderson Campus Center lobby or passers-by to see. To Class of 2020 President Jason Ferrante, this was a show of force to end rape culture on Allegheny’s campus.
“We want people to start thinking, ‘I will be an active bystander and I won’t turn a blind eye,’” Ferrante said.
ASG passed a Title IX resolution on Nov. 7, 2017, stating they will work to fight against any sexual assault or violence on the Allegheny campus in tandem with the Title IX office, as well as other administrators and clubs in accordance with the schools statement of community. This resolution had been brought to the floor by Ferrante and was sponsored by Mark MacStudy, ’18, and Gillian Green, ’20.
Ferrante hopes students will see the pledge signing as more than just writing on a piece of paper, but as an acknowledgement that students need to hold themselves accountable.
“It’s on us, we are part of the community,” Ferrante said. “I think this is something our campus needs and there should be more empathy towards it.”
As the first kick off event of the semester, Why Not Us has even more planned for the future. Within the next two months there will be an event called Survivor Love Letters where students have the ability to write a letter to themselves or to others who have been impacted by sexual assault, according to co-president of Why Not Us, Anna Meyer, ’20.
In April, Why Not Us will be hosting a conference with speakers such as the mother of Audrie Potts, a 15-year-old girl from California who committed suicide after being sexually assaulted at a house party. There will also be local workshops with Women’s Services, nurses who handle rape cases and district attorneys who have handled sexual assault cases, according to Meyer.
Meyer will also be speaking about her own case during the conference.
“I hope that by telling my story, others who have been sexually assaulted will see that it is okay to talk about theirs,” Meyer said.