A sea of students sporting “It Affects Me” T-shirts marks the start of the annual campaign designed to educate the campus community about the effects of sexual violence and encourage students to take action against rape.
Throughout the week, volunteers from Students Stopping Rape, Men Against Rape and student groups from the Rape Prevention Education Program, who started the campaign six years ago, will be in the Arbor passing out 1,000 organic, sweatshop-free T-shirts displaying the slogan, “It Affects Me.” Additionally, various activities will be staged around campus.
Fourth-year women’s studies major Peggy Lee said her personal experiences led her to believe in the motives of the campaign and power of collective action.
“‘It Affects Me’ is a campaign which I believe in as a survivor of sexual assault,” Lee said. “We can stop rape if we all raise our consciousness and work with the movement.”
According to Students Stopping Rape media intern Deborah Svidler, the campaign’s slogan is intended to show how everyone, regardless of sex, is directly or indirectly impacted by sexual violence.
“The shirts are meant to ignite dialogue as a way to educate everyone,” Svidler, a third-year psychology and Spanish major, said. “We usually encourage everyone to wear those shirts as much as they can all week.”
Third-year political science major Edgar Mendoza said he picked up a shirt on Monday to make a statement about the widespread effects of sexual violence.
“Rape is not just male aggression against women – it intersects all other identity labels of race and class,” Mendoza said. “Wearing the shirt is awareness of how rape affects us all.”
Svidler said daily interactions and exchanges as well as pop culture are largely responsible for desensitizing students to the reality of rape.
“We live in a world that basically normalizes rape,” Svidler said. “We see it in the media, we see it in music videos and we also see it in the way we talk. We call each other bitches or hoes, and by doing that you just make violence towards women OK.”
Fourth-year political science and psychology major Amita Chollate said she hopes the week’s events will draw attention to the central objectives of SSR and encourage activism against sexual violence.
“I think it’s a way to get the campus aware of this issue that is really serious,” Chollate said. “Hopefully we will get rid of some apathy in our community.”
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and several other student groups are scheduled to hold free events throughout the week. For more information on this week’s coming events, go to ww.studentsstoppingrape.org.