April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) since 2001. Despite not being on campus this year, Pards Against Sexual Assault (PASA) plans to recognize the importance of this month and what it represents with the entire campus community, if not a larger one, through a series of virtual, month-long events.
PASA has hosted SAAM each April since it was founded in fall 2017. PASA’s mission it to both empower and provide resources for sexual assault survivors and educate the college community in order to prevent further sexual misconduct. SAAM serves as an integral part of this mission.
As the rest of the semester has been moved to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and students are no longer on campus, all events will be held virtually, through the organization’s Instagram page or newly created website.
“As we have learned through virtual learning, we don’t need to be on campus to continue to expand our knowledge! Even though we are are not physically on campus, it is of the utmost importance that we express our support to survivors on our campus that we are there for them and do not tolerate sexual assault,” PASA president Emma Piascik ‘21 wrote in an email.
The first virtual event, Teal Tuesday, will be held next Tuesday, April 7. For this event, participants are encouraged to change their Instagram profile picture to a teal background to show their support for survivors. PASA also plans to release an educational video to supplement this show of solidarity.
On Saturday, April 11 at 11:00 a.m. and on Friday, April 24 at 5:00 p.m., PASA will use Instagram to livestream a trauma-informed yoga session taught by Liz Jordan, a Trauma Sensitive Yoga certified instructor.
PASA also plans to release informational videos created by Lafayette administrators and staff that will be available on their website on April 18. April 29, Psychology Professor Susan Hannan will host an informational presentation via Google Meets at 12:15 p.m.
April 29 is also Denim Day, where participants will be encouraged to post photos of themselves wearing denim to raise awareness of sexual assault and tag PASA’s Instagram account.
Any time between April 5-26, members of the campus community can submit an anonymous note of encouragement and support that will be sent to the Crime Victims Counsel of the Lehigh Valley and shared with survivors of sexual assault after being reviewed by PASA.
Greta Kullby ‘21, director of marketing and communications for PASA, explained that the events were decided on by the organization prior to the college’s closing. COVID-19 has forced the organization to make adjustments and adaptations and “pushed [PASA] to be a bit creative,” Kullby explained.
“I think that our virtual events will make SAAM more accessible and provide just as many, if not more, avenues for students to participate,” Kullby wrote in an email.
For instance, the notes for survivors initiative was originally only going to be available for one week, but now it will take place over three weeks. Additionally, SAAM was originally only to feature one yoga class, but now there are two.
“The first step in making a change is educating and discussing sexual violence with students. The more individuals understand the causes, effects, and other nuances of sexual assault, the more motivated they will be to change their behavior to make our campus a happy and safe environment,” Piascik wrote.
“PASA intends to keep our promise to students, even if we aren’t all physically on campus at the moment,” Kullby wrote. “No one is going to fix the world in a day, but we as the Lafayette community, wherever we are currently, can still be a part in this greater discussion.”