Committee on Sexual Misconduct Hosts Third Annual Week of Action


Students signed a pledge to be active bystanders during the bystander intervention workshop. (Courtesy of the Committee on Sexual Misconduct)

By Sarah Huffman

The Committee on Sexual Misconduct within the United Student Government (USG) hosted Week of Action from Monday, April 8 to Thursday, April 11 to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault.

Week of Action is an event that the national organization It’s On Us holds every April for sexual assault awareness month. This is the third year that the committee has participated in Week of Action. Emma Budd, FCRH ’20, co-chair on the committee on Sexual Misconduct, said the committee also hosts a Week of Action in October for domestic violence awareness month.

This semester’s Week of Action included five events. The first event was the clothesline project, an event where students wrote messages relating to the issue of sexual assault on a t-shirt and hung them on a clothesline in front of McGinley Center. The t-shirts remained up for the entire week.

Budd said this was an opportunity for students to stand in support of survivors of sexual assault and for survivors to share their own stories.

Tuesday’s event was a bystander intervention workshop in the student lounge. The committee handed out pamplets about consent and bystander intervention and had people sign a sign that they made, pledging to be an active bystander. They are planning on hanging the banner in McGinley Center.

Nate Singh, FCRH ’20, USG’s vice president of health and security said this issue pertains to resident and commuter students alike. He said they wanted to get commuters more involved in their events, and they worked with Vanessa Reyes, FCRH ’19, Commuter Student Association president emeritus to get the word out about the event to commuters.

The Speak Out Against Sexual Assault, hosted by Women’s Empowerment (WE) and Rodrigues’, was Tuesday night. Singh said this is an event that WE puts on every semester.

“This year we included it as part of the week of action,” he said. “It was completely put on by them, we just wanted to be the to support their event because it’s such a powerful and moving experience for a lot of people who are there to listen in on people’s individual experiences with sexual assault.”

Wednesday was the Horrors of Healthcare event. Anya Patterson, FCRH ’19, presented her thesis about black and brown women in gynecology and the liberties the health care system takes without their consent. Budd said she presented her presentation from the research symposium.

“I think the intention there is to make sure we’re addressing all aspects of the issue of sexual assault and that it inadvertently effects people of color and LGBTQ people differently than straight white women,” said Budd.

The event on Thursday was a self-defense class in the gym. A self-defense and krav maga instructor went over stances, how to properly throw a punch and real life scenarios.

“We want to make sure that nobody thinks we’re hosting a self-defense class to focus on educating women to defend themselves over educating people not to commit acts of sexual assault,” said Budd. “The reality is that it does happen, so we want to make sure people are feeling prepared, confident and safe in their abilities.”

The last event was Candy and Consent at senior night on Thursday night. The committee handed out pieces of candy stapled to pieces of paper with information about Title IX at Fordham and information about consent. Singh said a lot of people took them and hopefully learned something from them.

Singh said the committee chooses events based on what students will be the most interested in going to and what events will reach the most students. He said they look at what will be effective in terms of ability to spread awareness and education about sexual assault.

“Every semester we try to mix it up to see what students are responsive to, as well as bringing in as many perspectives to the issue as we can,” said Singh.

He said it’s important to include different perspectives. For example, last semester, they included an event where Father Lito spoke about the Church’s perspective on the issue of sexual assault.

Singh said a huge part of this week is about reaching out to students who have been affected by this issue and letting them know that their voices will not be ignored.

“I hope that [the Week of Action] continues the conversation and people keep talking about it and that anyone who is feeling alone in their situation realizes that this is a conversation that’s happening and that there are people that support them,” said Budd. “And that they start to learn about and understand their resources here.”

“The ultimate aim for this week is to get more students in this community to be educated about this issue and to care about this issue. It’s to show that students care a lot about sexual assault and how it impacts students here,” Singh said. “We want to show that this issue is not ignored at Fordham and as a student body we are prioritizing action against sexual assault.”

Budd said they want to make sure their peers know what resources are offered to them. She said they want to expand the conversation and make a lasting impression on this issue

The committee on Sexual Misconduct is a group of 15-20 undergraduate students who work on initiatives and events relating to Title IX at Fordham and the overall education and awareness of the issue.

“We really couldn’t have done anything we did this week without the work of our committee members. They put in so much time and effort to make sure these events are well programmed and effective,” said Singh.

Singh said the committee worked closely with the Title IX office and administrators to make sure all information given to students throughout the week is accurate. All members of the committee go through Title IX training to ensure the information they are giving is accurate.