We, the Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) Board of Directors, wish to stand with the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and with those around the country who have joined in solidarity.
In particular, we find that the participatory democratic approach that is being utilized at OWS, reflects our values in supporting grassroots movements for social change. Some of the techniques involved in such an approach include: consensus-based decision-making, mobilizing communities against injustice, and non-violent direct action.
SAFER operates from an intersectional and anti-oppression framework. We appreciate and share the concerns of individuals and communities that are fighting injustice within the OWS movement, and the efforts to make the movement a more effective and just space. We take into account the history of the term occupation and critiques that have been released about this term. We follow in the footsteps of New Mexico, and support the movement to (un)occupy.
We strongly believe that economic and other forms of injustice are inextricably linked and multiply the challenges faced by student survivors of sexual violence. In this vein, we specifically support the work of students organizers who are addressing how economic (in)justice impacts the experiences of survivors on campus.
Some of our concerns include:
- Who has access to college-level education
- Who has family, friends, or community members that are able to be provide financial or emotional support
- Whether work-study students, and students on scholarship, feel safe in challenging institutional authority
- Who has access to long-term supportive services and safe spaces (such as housing alternatives to dorms, or private therapy)
- Whose cases of sexual violence are taken more seriously by campus authorities
- Who has access to legal assistance
- Who has power to directly impact violence prevention and response policies and programs on campus, and who has the power to make these funding priorities
SAFER is devoted to the creation of comprehensive and accessible university responses to sexual assault. However, on a broader level, SAFER is devoted to bringing an end to violence, particularly patriarchal violence.
To this end, SAFER maintains the following guidelines:
- Movements must be non-violent in nature.
- Movements must actively oppose sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ethnic or religious bias and injustice in all its forms.
- Movements must meaningfully address issues of education, prevention, crisis intervention and community involvement, and work toward the creation of fair, effective and accessible prevention-based sexual assault policies.
- A grassroots movement should serve to empower individuals as well as a community.
- Progressive change requires three types of work: consciousness raising, activism within existing systems and activism outside of existing systems.
- Members of affected communities must find their own solutions for the problems that face them.
- Meaningful progressive change requires concrete, measurable victories.
- Authority will not change until it is challenged with power that equals its own.
- Collective power is the only power that oppressed groups can rely on.
- All oppressions are interdependent and must be actively resisted.
- Every effective action by activists must be strategic and goal-oriented.
- Authority should always be questioned and held accountable for its actions.
- Change on a community level can make an impact that will change the world.
We will show solidarity by continuing to amplify student movements for economic justice connected to and inspired by Occupy Wall Street.