Male and female students are joining forces to combat rape and sexual assault as the third annual “I Want a Truce” campaign kicks off today.
Sponsored by the Women’s Center and UCSB Rape Prevention Education Program, the “I Want a Truce” campaign aims to keep this weekend sexual violence-free, educating students about sexual assault and rape prevention efforts along the way. Throughout the week, T-shirts bearing the slogan “I Want a Truce” will be handed out in front of the Women’s Center on campus to people who pledge to avoid nonconsensual sex this weekend, from Oct. 20 to 23.
This year’s campaign, which cost approximately $2,000 to organize, will include events hosted by Students Stopping Rape (SSR) and Men Against Rape (MAR), said SSR Co-Coordinator Katie Mahon. Tonight at 6:30, Men Against Rape will kick off the event lineup with a mock game show in the Women’s Center Library titled “Guess the Rapist,” Mahon said, in which participants try to pick out a fictional rapist from among a panel of actors.
Mahon, a third-year communication and sociology major, said people have asked her why the campaign only pushes for one weekend free of sexual assault. She said the three-day goal is just a starting point in the fight against sexual violence in Isla Vista.
“A lot of people laugh – ‘just this weekend?'” Mahon said. “There are 350 to 500 sexual assaults per year in the Isla Vista community, which is at least one per day. It’s just the weekend to start with, then we can ask for more.”
Mahon said the campaign was inspired by a speech by Andrea Dworkin, a prominent feminist and author, in which Dworkin likened sexual assaults to a war against women and demanded that there be at least one day in which nobody was a victim of rape.
One misconception about the “I Want a Truce” campaign is that it aims to demonize sex, Mahon said, but the goal of the campaign is merely to put a stop to sex that is forced or nonconsensual.
“We’re not against sex, we just ask that it be consensual.” Mahon said.
Students Stopping Rape and Men Against Rape are also coordinating a parade down Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road at 10:30 p.m. Friday. During the parade, members of both organizations will distribute free candy and condoms, Mahon said, in an effort to encourage local residents to make sure that any sex they have over the weekend is safe, as well as consensual.
“Speak,” a film depicting the journey of a girl who is raped and is afraid to report it, will be shown in Anacapa Hall and Francisco Torres at 7 p.m. Thursday. Following the movie, peer educators from SSR and MAR will lead discussions about the film and answer questions from the audience, Mahon said.
Mahon said the “I Want a Truce” campaign recognizes sexual assault as a worldwide problem and demands equal consideration for every person regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or appearance. She said educating people about sexual violence is more important than the statistics about how many rapes and sexual assaults the campaign prevents.
“I don’t think about the numbers,” Mahon said. “I think about the people we’re helping.”