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Philanthropy Committee Hosts Sexual Assault Awareness Day

By James Trent
On April 25, 2018

Denim Day seeks to raise awareness of sexual assault.
Photo Courtesy of Concord University

The Student Government Association (SGA) brought “Denim Day” to Concord University as part of a campaign to raise awareness for sexual assault.

In 1998, the Italian supreme court overturned a rape conviction because of the outfit the victim wore on the day of the assault. A 19-year-old girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor after he took her to an isolated road and tore one leg off of her skinny jeans. The predator threatened her life if she ever told anyone about the assault, and forced her to drive the car she was raped in home. The girl told her parents, and the family was able to press charges and have the rapist imprisoned.

However, the rapist appealed his conviction, and the Italian supreme court decided that he must be innocent because of the jeans the girl wore while she was being raped. As recorded by the University of Wisconsin’s history of “Denim Day,” “The Chief Judge [argued], ‘because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.’” The ruling sparked outrage around the world. The women of the Italian parliament wore denim jeans in solidarity with the victim, and soon Californian legislatures did the same.

In 1999, a Californian non-profit called “Peace Over Violence” organized the first “Denim Day,” which has grown into a national movement acknowledging victims of sexual assault and raising awareness with their slogan “Make a social statement with your fashion statement; wear jeans with a purpose.” It was scheduled for April each year as April is National Sexual Awareness Month.

Concord University joins this tradition this year for the first time. The United States Department of Justice once famously claimed that one out of every four women on college campuses will be the victim of sexual assault before graduation. While some have disputed that statistic, it represents an unnerving sub-culture on American campuses, where women are systematically assaulted by men and never receive the resources to deal with their assault.

To combat this, many groups on campus participated in “Denim Day” on April 25, bringing awareness of sexual assault to Concord. The Philanthropy Committee of SGA held an information table in the student center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and talked about sexual assault and ways it can be prevented. The Committee also partnered with Concord’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and the Social Work Club to collect donations of denim clothes, and then made a ribbon out of those donations.

Denim jeans with information about sexual assault posted to them were hung on a clothesline outside the student center. The Committee plans to donate the denim to the Salvation Army.

This event comes shortly after a Concord student was assaulted February of this year, leading to an increase in police presence on campus. Dr. Marjie Flanigan, vice president of affairs and Title IX coordinator, and lead organizer of Concord’s “Denim Day” event, released an email about the event shortly after it was reported. As previously reported by the Concordian, the email said that Concord was, “actively investigating an alleged sexual assault that was reported [that] week. Please know that as a result, there is a greater campus police presence in the resident halls that will continue throughout the semester.” There has been no further official information regarding the sexual assault.

Haley Fields, head of the Philanthropy Committee and SGA President-elect, states, “It is important for students to be informed so that, if they ever [find] themselves in these circumstances, they know who they can turn to.”

If a student is a victim of sexual assault, they are urged to contact their local police department, hospital, or a SART member. A list of Concord’s SART members, as well as additional public resources for sexual assault, can be found at concord.edu under the Student Life tab.

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