Why Not Us started Valentine’s Day off by hosting a Survivor Love Letter event in the Henderson Campus Center on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
This three day event is filled with information about Title IX and gives passersby the opportunity to write a letter to survivors of sexual assault on a postcard.
“The stigma towards sexual assault and rape is incredibly evident and survivors need the support,” Ashlyne Lawrence, ’20, said.
Everyone is encouraged to write a letter whether it is to themselves, a friend, family member or even to the community as a whole. Participants can sign the cards or leave the cards anonymous if they do not feel comfortable disclosing their name.
“Students have been excited to write while others have been hesitant and need time to think it over,” Why Not Us Co-President Anna Meyer, ’20, said. “Professors have especially been weary when it comes to writing. It takes time.”
After the letters have been written and collected, members of Why Not Us and their advisers, Gilly Ford Title IX coordinator and Robert Ippolito residence life area coordinator, will get together to compile them and create a project, according to Meyer. Individual pictures will be taken of each letter and put into a slideshow which will be displayed on a projector in the campus center during lunch on Friday. Some of the pictures will even have students holding their own cards to show support.
Why Not Us was inspired by Megan Lenherr, a counselor from Women’s Services, to host this event. Lenherr has hosted the event before, according to Meyer.
“Meg has become the Allegheny College liaison and takes care of college students,” Meyer said. “She’s awesome.”
Why Not Us also asked Allegheny Student Government to partner with them to host this event, according to Class of 2018 President Kierra Price.
“ASG has been doing a lot to take action against Title IX, and working with Why Not Us has been a great way to show support,” said Price.
“ASG hopes to continue working with this organization. It’s not just a one semester thing.”
On Feb. 6, ASG partnered with Why Not Us for a pledge signing event where students and faculty were asked to sign a pledge to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. The pledge was a personal commitment and promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be part of the solution.
Recently, Why Not Us traveled to the District of Columbia to attend a conference hosted by Know Your IX, an organization founded in 2013 to empower students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools, where they learned the legal structure of Title IX, according to Lawrence.
“Title IX is being changed under Betsy DeVos so we were taught our rights,” said Meyer. “I feel like I have Title IX memorized, so if anybody has questions or needs help, I’m here.”
On Sep. 7, 2017 DeVos, the United States Secretary of Education, announced that she plans to roll back years of civil rights protections for students across the country, according to Know Your IX.
“The conference was very inspiring, and it’s why I wanted to participate in Why Not Us,” Lawrence said. “It’s very important for survivors to know that they are supported.”