Courtesy of Sexual Assault Awareness Week

Sexual assault survivors submitted confessions about their experience and trauma.

April 15, 2018

Fourth Cornell Sexual Assault Awareness Week to Restore Survivors’ Agency

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The fourth Cornell Sexual Assault Awareness Week, which will take place from April 16 to April 20, hopes to help sexual assault victims find their voices and bring to the table the concerns around the issue.

In a 2017 survey conducted by the University, 55 percent of the 2,238 respondents reported having experience of “one or more specific forms of (sexual or gender-based) harassment.”

Alexandra Klein ’18, event organizer of the awareness week, said that many Cornell students who grapple with the issue find it hard to express their thoughts and that this week is a “powerful chance” for them.

One of the featured events is the Whiteboard Photograph Campaign. Inspired by Duke University’s “Duke Breaking Out Project,” the campaign has been collecting anonymous quotes from sexual assault survivors at Cornell through an online survey form since February, according to the committee’s website.

Other events during the week include a display of clothing that survivors reported wearing at the incidents, which will take place at the Tammany Lounge at Risley Residential College and Mann Library atrium, as well as a “Call for Action” forum on Friday, which will give participants a chance to voice opinions on related topics such as education and support services.

Klein said that invitations to the events have been extended to Vijay Pendakur, dean of students, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student and Campus Life, and other administration officials.

Hannah Light-Olson ’18, another student involved in organizing the week’s events, said that the administration is paying attention and is improving its response system and policy for sexual assault reports.

“Crime reports have changed quite a lot,” Light-Olson said. “It used to be quite identifying in the information that they gave about the victim, and students have expressed that it’s not appropriate and that was changed.”

For sexual assault victims, Klein believes it is important that they are provided with options while coping with the trauma.

“Sexual violence takes away the person’s agency, decision-making restores it,” Klein said.