Week highlights issues of sexual violence

by Sydney Zuckerman / Beacon Staff • October 6, 2016

Four Emerson sophomores are renewing their efforts this year to take a stand against rape and sexual assault by continuing to build their community action group.

Last year, Meaghan Schaefer, a political communication studies major; Teresa Powers, an IDIP leadership and management communication major; Sarah Griffin, a communication studies major; and Peyton Incollingo, a communication studies major, formed Together We Stand. The community action group is dedicated to improving education and awareness about sexual assault, rape, and partner abuse on college campuses.

Together We Stand is working with Violence Prevention and Response to sponsor Emerson STANDS week: five days of activities to bring awareness to interpersonal violence. Emerson STANDS week includes the Take a Stand art project, a banner for students to write on or decorate, in the Max Mutchnick Campus and the Iwasaki Library.

The public art project will eventually be displayed on the 10th floor of the Walker Building or migrate to different areas on campus, according to Emerson’s website.

At the first meeting of the year earlier this month, Schaefer said these topics may make the general public uneasy, but the group needs to make people aware of the issue to ensure change. Powers said the topics can get uncomfortable and personal, but it matters.

Throughout the coming year, Schaefer said, the group will focus on boosting membership, organizing programs, and creating art to inspire change. Schaefer and Powers will lead the charge in Boston this semester while Griffin and Incollingo are abroad at Emerson’s Kasteel Well in the Netherlands.

Together We Stand is working with the Office of Violence Prevention and Response to reach more students, Schaefer said. Melanie O. Matson, director of VPR, said the group came to VPR full of energy and ideas in spring 2015 and have continued to expand their influence since.

Together We Stand encourages students to join their Facebook group for more information on scheduled meetings. The group also encourages students to watch Speak, a three-minute film produced by Schaefer to illustrate some of their goals through a creative outlet.

The Emerson STANDS action series planned for Tuesday, Oct. 4, was cancelled due to a fire drill, according to an email from Matson.

Information tables in the dining hall have been available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. all week for those seeking more information or looking to help out. Students are also invited to attend the Open Mic Night Thursday, Oct. 6. in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center.

Powers said it is important to realize how big the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is.

“Just because all we see are stats doesn’t mean these aren’t real people,” Powers said. “The most important part is to get the dialogue started.”