Students gathered to decorate the Spine with chalk on April 26 to kick off the Women’s Student Union’s (WSU) Week of Action for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The WSU hosted the “Line the Spine & Chalking Event” to spread awareness about sexual assault on campus. Students and WSU E-Board members used chalk to draw messages relating to sexual assault awareness. All students were encouraged to draw their own pictures or observe. Some of the messages that were drawn included, “Binghamton University has a Sexual Assault Problem,” “Clothing is NOT consent” and “End victim-blaming.” The “Line the Spine & Chalking Event” was meant to bring people closer together, according to Hannah Sperber, WSU secretary and a sophomore majoring in social work.
“It’s kind of like a unity healing event for everyone to come together and be outside and show their solidarity,” Sperber said. “We like giving people free rein to chalk and draw whatever they want.”
Eliza Kamerman, WSU treasurer and a junior majoring in environmental studies, said she hopes this event will remind survivors that they are not alone.
“We are out here today just trying to show our support for survivors and the community,” Kamerman said. “It’s especially important here at BU, where survivors often have not been met with the resources that they need from administration.”
While this event is annual, Sperber believes that the message of this event is more important this year.
“We have been having this event for many years now,” Sperber said. “I think this year it is really prevalent because it has become really well known that BU has a sexual assault problem, and we need to do something about it.”
Troi McKenzie, an intern for WSU and a sophomore majoring in psychology, said this event is meant to call out administration and support those survivors who see the event’s message.
“We want to force the administration to see that we see what is happening and that we won’t go unheard,” McKenzie said. “We hope that participants that are survivors take away that they are heard and supported. We hope that people who are not survivors and come to support take away that this is a serious problem.”
Arianna Edwards, an undeclared freshman, came to the event to show support for the cause.
“I came because this is a cause I think is really important, and I think BU does have a problem with sexual assault on campus,” Edwards said. “It’s important to speak up and bring awareness to this issue.”
WSU is hosting a week of events, with the “Line the Spine & Chalking Event” being the first of two in-person events. The second in-person event is a rally called “Take Back the Night.” This event will take place on April 30 at 6 p.m. and will start at the Peace Quad. Anyone may attend this event, which will include speakers discussing resources available on campus as well as a survivor speak-out, where people can step up and share their stories. “Take Back the Night” will also include a march around the Brain.
WSU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month Week of Action held an online “History of Take Back the Night” event on Tuesday, an online “Know Your Rights” event on Wednesday and will have an online poster-making event on Thursday, where students can grab materials at UUW 323 and meet on Zoom to decorate them at 8 p.m. To end the week, WSU is having a “Virtual Survivor Speakout” featuring the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CVAC) on May 1 at 2 p.m.
According to McKenzie, everyone should feel welcome to join and support each other at the “Take Back the Night” rally.
“This is going to be a safe space,” McKenzie said. “What happens there stays there, and people can just be honest and vulnerable about something that is quite horrible.”