USG’s Committee on Sexual Misconduct Holds Fall Week of Action


United Student Government’s Committee on Sexual Misconduct (CSM) hosted its semesterly Week of Action last week.

The Week of Action is a week-long event of programming focused on educating people about sexual misconduct as well as empowering and supporting survivors.

This semester, the programming ranged from self-defense classes to a “Candy and Consent” tabling event. While the Week of Action has gone on for many years, there were some notable new additions.

“This year we introduced a brand-new event: the ‘Why I Didn’t Report’ presentation and discussion,” said Farah Elrakhawi, FCRH ’24, the chair of the Committee on Sexual Misconduct. “While some events have certainly become integral parts of our committee’s programming, I always think diversifying the conversation is valuable.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, CSM and the Women’s Empowerment Club worked in collaboration to host the “Speak Out Against Sexual Assault” at Rodrigue’s Coffee House.

“Speak Out Against Sexual Assault” is a semesterly event that invites people to come and share their experiences of sexual misconduct in a safe environment.

“We set up a microphone and are basically like, ‘Whoever wants to go up can go up!’ People can just do whatever they want, express themselves however they want,” said Reilly Dunne, FCRH ’22, the general coordinator of the Women’s Empowerment Club.

“It’s very special to have a space. It’s definitely a very emotional and cathartic event, there’s a lot of tears shed. [But] it’s a very liberating space,” said Dunne.

Having events like the speak-out can help people feel more comfortable sharing their experiences, allowing them to feel a sense of community, explained Dunne.

“You have all the t-shirts and that is a great reminder to see through the Week of Action, but to hear people share their personal stories and make connections, and to be able to express yourself [is important],” said Dunne. “A lot of people come, and they’re like, ‘I’ve never said this out loud, I’ve never told anyone this, but I feel ready to share this here and now, and that is an important thing to have.”

Like many events, this semester marks the first fully in-person version of the event after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past two semesters, because of COVID, we couldn’t have [the speakout] inside. So we had it outside, where we basically just set up a blanket [and talked],” said Dunne. “That was a lot more conversation based, which I liked, but I think there’s some power in actually being able to hold the microphone and reclaim the power that some people feel has been taken from them.”

Many students feel that the Week of Action serves as a great way to create change; however, many also feel that there is still room for improvement with creating change within Fordham.

“There seems to be a growing interest in the expansion of CPS, as well as a need for additional funding and support,” said Elrakhawi. “I’m in complete agreement that funding for a department as important as CPS should be prioritized, as mental health remains an area of concern for me. I can not emphasize the need for consistent supportive resources readily available for all Fordham students as mental health is an often wrongfully neglected area of concern.”

Despite these numerous concerns, the semesterly Week of Action remains to be known to a lot of people as a week that is impactful and important for survivors of sexual misconduct as well as inspiring education about it.

“[I think that the Week of Action inspires a lot of change] on a cultural level,” said Dunne. “To be able to have these conversations with people, I think is really important in raising awareness of the faults of Fordham and the faults of Fordham students, and what we can do as a culture to improve things to mitigate sexual assault.”

Both CSM and the Women’s Empowerment Club serve as safe places at Fordham that students can go for help at any point in the year, not just during the Week of Action.

“It is incredibly saddening to hear of the lack of awareness of where to find supportive resources and help for students,” said Elrakhawi, “We make an effort to direct everyone to [CSM’s] LinkTree that can be found in [their] Instagram bio [found at @csm_fordhamusg] when searching for supportive resources!”