10 Student Sexual Assault Activists to Know!: #3: Kate Sim, Harvard University

10 Student Sexual Assault Activists to Know!

Throughout the course of the last year, we at SAFER have proudly watched numerous student sexual assault prevention activists speak out against the prevalence of sexual assault on their campuses and call for changes to college and universities policies regarding sexual violence.

In honor of Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month, SAFER will highlight 10 student sexual assault prevention activists around the nation who are creating change on their campus!

# 3 Kate Sim, Harvard University

Left: Kate Sim ’14

Kate Sim is a student at Harvard University and founder of Our Harvard Can Do Better, which is a student activist organization working on the college, university and national level to advocate for survivor-centric, intersectionally inclusive reform of sexual violence policies. Sim, along with her fellow Harvard Activists, filed a Title IX complaint against Harvard after members of the faculty mistreated survivors and after activists discovered that the University’s current sexual assault policy is over twenty years old. In addition to her work with Our Harvard, Sims is active with Know Your IX.

SAFER provides student activists with a variety of resources, including the Activist Resource Center, which is our online library of sexual assault-related information and resources; on-campus Teach-Ins for student activists, which are led by skilled facilitators and equip students with the skills and information needed to bring about policy reforms and change; and, our Activist Mentoring Program (AMP!), which is our free mentoring service that provides students with continued support after they have completed an on-campus Teach-In.

10 Things All Sexual Violence Prevention Activists Should Know: #8 Garnering outside community support

10 Things All Sexual Violence Prevention Activists Should Know

By Jessica Torres

April is Sexual Assault ACTIVISM Month and in honor of all the hard work that has been done and will be done by college sexual assault prevention activists, SAFER has put together a “Top 10 Things All Sexual Violence Prevention Activists Should Know.” We will be posting one of the ten ideas/suggestions/concepts each day for the first ten days of #SAAM. Please check our blog and our social media for each day’s idea!

Systems and traditions that allow and reinforce rape culture don’t exist in a vacuum; rape culture is informed by everyday microaggressions, historic disenfranchisement of specific groups (like women, LGBT folks, and people of color), and quite frankly, it’s a symptom of larger problems we often don’t have the language to discuss. Here are 10 things that all sexual violence prevention activists should know and consider as they further their efforts to build stronger and long-lasting policies that both reflect and challenge the needs and understanding of sexual assault for students on college campuses.

8. Garnering outside community support

-connect with local community members like small business owners, local activist groups, etc. Their understanding of the political landscape in the larger community is a critical asset for your movement’s sustainability

-if there are more colleges in your area, connect with them! Learn what kinds of strategies they’ve explored and exchange ideas. A great activist is always researching and building relationships with others.

-we’re talking about building safer communities for everyone, who isn’t into that?

SAFER Announces Pilot Training Grant Application

SAFER is excited to announce a new grant application for student activists to bring our policy organizing training to their campus!

For recipients of the grant, SAFER will cover the costs of bringing SAFER to your campus to conduct a policy organizing training. We will also coach you through the process of organizing the training, and provide up to 10 hours of free mentoring after the training. Campuses within the continental United States are eligible. Our goal is to help empower students who don’t have the financial resources to bring SAFER to their campus otherwise.

Please download the application guidelines by clicking here.

When completed, please email your application to development@safercampus.org. The subject line should read “SAFER Pilot Training Grant Application – [your school’s name]”. This application is due absolutely no later than October 1, 2013, but feel free to submit your application before that date. We will be in touch the week of October 7, 2013 about your application.

Change Happened at BU: A Student Activist’s Story

Just weeks ago, Boston University announced the establishment of a sexual assault crisis and prevention center, which is set to open its doors at the beginning of the 2012 school year. Of course, there are some amazing student activists behind this success story. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Sarah Merriman, whose guest post below chronicles her and her fellow students’ struggle to make change happen at BU. You can also read the proposal they submitted to their school’s administrators by clicking here. Congratulations to Sarah and all of the student activists at BU for this incredible achievement! 

February 20th, 2012. That was the Tuesday morning that dawned bright and cold, the Monday morning in which my life, my experience as a BU student, and my activism, was about to change forever.

My activism, as a student, a researcher, and a feminist operating in Boston and out of BU’s Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism (CGSA) has always centered around issues of interpersonal violence, and almost always focused on sexual assault. For years, it has felt like I have been banging my head against a wall of bureaucracy and budget issues to get an ounce of sexual assault prevention to my fellow students at BU. Other students like me had gone in these same circles. Nothing was happening.

On this Tuesday morning, though, we caught word that a hockey player had assaulted another student over the long weekend, the second in a line of hockey player-perpetuated attacks. Suddenly, this was the incident that launched a thousand students, so to speak. People were confused, angry, shocked, mobilized, and they were looking to the CGSA for guidance. We were the only people on campus consistently working on feminist issues such as sexual assault, and the student body needed us.

After an exhausting few weeks of press, town halls, being attacked on the internet, a task force being formed, and a lot of stressful meetings, a few of us, students both within and outside the CGSA, decided it was time to write a proposal for what we were calling a “rape crisis center.” No student initiative comes to fruition at BU without a written proposal and a strong case, and even then, we knew this was a long shot. But we had to try.

Over many meetings (that went from 9 pm to 2 or 3 in the morning), plus countless hours of outside research that included looking at other universities’ policies and prevention and treatment measures, taking meetings with many experienced university professionals, gathering over 1,000 signatures of support on an online petition, and, in many ways, redefining the dialogue happening across campus about rape culture, we formed a document. It was an exhaustive 20 pages. No stone was left unturned. We attached letters of support from community leaders, and we had our consultants approve the whole thing before turning it in.

I had expected a delay well into the summer. A five-year plan floated in my head. What I never expected, on April 30th, 2012, another bright beginning to my week, was the letter that read that a center would be opening in the Fall of 2012. This year. In a few months. It was happening. It would include bystander intervention training, multiple crisis counselors, and a prevention specialist. I cried as I realized the one thing I had fought for for my the entirety of my undergraduate career was being realized.

Never have I felt like more of a warrior than I did this past year. I was fighting within my school, my community, for its betterment. Famous feminists and national leaders were using my words to send their support for this space and this mission. The paragraphs of prevention suggestions that I wrote will be used in reality. I can’t emphasize enough that the “student voice” is not a worthless one. I was hitting a wall for years before incidental timing and a community ready for change, plus an incredible group of seven students from different backgrounds and experiences, made this proposal happen. That’s student power. That’s why we do what we do, everyday.

SAFER’s Newest Activist Resource Center (ARC) Article, “Campus Policy: Down to Details”

Head over to the ARC to check out SAFER’s latest resource for campus activists, “Campus Policy: Down to Details.”  This article, created by Board Member and ARC Coordinator Renee and her intern, Cat, breaks down some of the most minute details of sexual-misconduct policies that are otherwise easily overlooked. Here’s the official description from Renee and Cat:

SAFER recognizes that no single policy works for every school; every campus has unique challenges and situations that need to be considered. This article helps students critically analyze their policy in order to be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. It can also be used as a group activity or conversation starter.

And Happy Friday!

Apply NOW for FlipIt!

Are you an undergraduate student currently residing in or around New York City? SAFER has teamed up with NOW-NYC and A Long Walk Home for FlipIt: Students Organizing Against Violence, a free, one-day student summit and interactive workshop focused on campus organizing, policy reform, and using art for social change. Students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQQI students, and men are encouraged to apply. I’ve included a brief summary of the day’s activities below, but you can head over to the conference’s Facebook page to learn more.

• Receive in-depth training on sexual assault and campus policy with anti-violence and advocacy experts
• Build a new school peer-group that will work together to make change on your campus
• Connect with local organizations and leaders in activism
• Become part of a new city-wide network of students and student leaders working to stop sexual assault

The event will be held at Pace University on April 14, 2012, but the application deadline is right around the corner. Make sure to apply by March 12, 2012! 

Winter Break Challenge: Policy Reform Mini-Webinar!

To get the Winter Break Challenge rolling, SAFER’s Training Coordinator, Erin Burrows, guides student activists through the steps of policy reform in a series of awesome webinars! First up: Deconstructing “Tone and Definition” in your school’s policy. You can find links to shortened and extended versions below. Enjoy!