The Rape Prevention Education Program (RPEP) is asking for a truce this weekend.
The program is sponsoring the “I Want a Truce” campaign, which encourages students and community members to sign a pledge promising that they will “not caress, grab, hold, pinch, kiss or rape anyone who does not give their sober consent” over the Oct. 21 to Oct. 24 weekend. Participants received a free t-shirt when they signed the pledge. RPEP Media Outreach Intern Susan Landgraff said the campaign is part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and stems from a speech delivered by Andrea Dworkin to 500 men at an antiviolence conference in 1983. The campaign is expected to draw at least 200 participants, Landgraff said.
“We have 200 shirts and are expecting 200 signatures, since we always run out of shirts,” she said.
Landgraff also said RPEP has placed several purple ribbons – a symbol of sexual assault awareness – around campus, and a kick-off party was held Oct. 20 at Woodstock’s Pizza in Isla Vista.
An anonymous survey showed an estimated 350 to 500 women on the UCSB campus are victims of sexual assault each year, Landgraff said. Men Against Rape member Carl Barnes said another survey reports that one in four women are victims of sexual assault before they graduate from college.
Barnes said the short length of the event is meant to draw people’s attention to the high rate of sexual assault in I.V.
“Isn’t it kind of ridiculous that it’s only for a weekend and we probably won’t even get that?” Barnes said.
Landgraff said the “I Want a Truce” campaign tries to fight “rape culture.”
“Rape culture means we live in a society where we are taught men need sex at all costs,” she said. “Women are afraid that people will say they are lying or that it was regretted sex.”
Barnes said Men Against Rape hopes the “I Want a Truce” campaign will also force men to acknowledge their responsibility.
“We allow men to get away with sexism,” he said. “Men have this problem and they need to address it. Men have certain privileges that women don’t, such as the wage discrepancy, and they shouldn’t.”
Vanessa Prell, a member of Students Stopping Rape, said she signed the pledge to prevent more people from getting hurt.
“I’ve never met a person who hasn’t been affected by sexual violence in some way,” Prell said. “I think it’s important to educate people about it.”
The campaign will be the first step in educating people about issues surrounding rape, Barnes said.
“We don’t expect that [sexual assault] will be eliminated,” he said. “I think [the campaign] does help get the issue floating around in people’s minds.”
“I Want a Truce” was created as a Fall Quarter event to complement RPEP’s spring campaign, “It Affects Me,” Barnes said. He said the spring campaign addresses the manner in which rape affects all members of the local community.