The UCSB Rape Prevention Education Program houses the student group Students Stopping Rape. Our second annual “It Affects Me” rally will be part of a larger collective in raising awareness during April – Sexual Violence Awareness Month. Our goal with this specific program is to bring consciousness to our community about rape and sexual assault and how it affects everyone on a college campus, directly or indirectly.

We are also working to show how language, media and behavior contribute to the perpetuation of a culture that justifies rape and sexual assault.

Our focus has shifted to combating rape culture by asking other students, organizations and community members to take a stand and express how rape culture has affected their community. We are building a coalition of all peoples to take a stand against violence and a culture that perpetuates racism, sexism, homophobia and hyper-masculinity through its words, actions, dress, behavior, attitudes, thoughts, emotions and stereotypes.

Our solidarity within groups, students and our community will be shown during the “It Affects Me” rally Thursday, April 10 from 11 to 2 p.m. in Storke Plaza. Our coalition to help end rape, sexual assault and rape culture is growing and already includes the following groups and organizations: Queer Student Union, Tropicana Student Association, Asian Resource Center, Asian American Studies Dept., Planned Parenthood’s Breakthrough Theatre, Habitat for Humanity-UCSB, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and San Nicholas Residence Halls, Chicano Studies Dept., A.S. Women’s Commission, Take Back the Night, Men Against Rape, Women’s Center Governance Board, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, UCSB Women’s Center, Women’s Ensemble Theater Troupe, Women’s Studies Dept., Black Studies Dept., Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Residence Hall Association, Tappers Anonymous, Surfrider Foundation, Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, Merhaba Folk Dance Club, Iaorona Te Otea, Naked Voices and the Vietnamese Student Association.

Please show your solidarity in raising awareness about sexual assault within our campus community and taking a personal responsibility to be conscious about what we each can do to end violence and abuse in our society. We are passing out bright blue T-shirts that state “It Affects Me,” along with flyers that explain what are our goals in wearing these shirts and provide a breakdown of how sexual assault and violence affect everyone. Show your support by coming by the Women’s Center (located between CLAS and Storke Tower) and picking up a shirt and wearing it throughout the week of April 7-11.

These T-shirts seek to ignite a dialogue among folks on this campus to talk about the epidemic problem of sexual assault and rape and what action we can take to end it.

Awareness is the first step.

The rally on Thursday will conclude our week and provide additional tools, resources and information about these issues and how to get involved. Take a unified stance against sexual assault and raise our campus’ consciousness concerning how this issue affects all of us, individually and socially and what we can do to end rape culture.

Kimberly Stiner-Zercoe is the Rape Prevention Education Program media intern and Sarah Crowley is a Students Stopping Rape coordinator.