[image-1] College of Charleston marketing major Kallie Golicher was sexually assaulted last February. In the days and weeks following the incident, Golicher says that she didn’t know what resources could help her cope with her trauma. “I found out that other students were struggling too, and dealing with the same issues,” she says. “It’s tough to get help when you don’t know what to do.”
Out of her assault, then, came a kind of silver lining — the inspiration for CofC’s first Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW), which starts next week and takes place during national Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“What started as two people has grown to over 30, including students and faculty members,” says Golicher of SAAW’s origins. The committee is made up of 30 students; they’ve partnered with CofC departments that include the Office of Victim Services, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and the Office of Equal Opportunity.
This isn’t the first event of its kind at CofC. The college held its first SlutWalk — an event that calls for an end to rape culture, including victim blaming — in 2016. A SlutWalk, by its very nature, encourages that buzzword — awareness — by making manifest the sentiment that women shouldn’t be treated based on the clothing they wear. CofC’s SlutWalk featured a peaceful march, poetry readings, and info from local organization, People Against Rape.
That 2016 walk followed an incident at an off-campus party, where two members of Alpha Epsilon Pi were accused of raping a 17-year-old freshman at the College. In a 2016 P&C article about the SlutWalk, then-CofC senior Corazon Stegelin, said, “Clearly it’s an issue here, and I want it not to be. Victim blaming, slut shaming, (they’re) all parts of rape culture … It’s never the victim’s fault.”
Now, two years later, Golicher wants to reinforce that very message with SAAW. “It’s a week full of events to empower victims so that they think of themselves as survivors,” she says.
The week kicks off on Mon. April 2 with two panels: “It’s your place: Bystander Intervention for Sexual Assault” and “How to Support a Friend,” both held in the Stern Center at 6:30 p.m. In addition to talks held throughout the week, there will also be a charity bake sale, dodgeball tournament, and a free jiu-jitsu self-defense demonstration.
Golicher wants to share with students what resources they have access to; she adds that it’s not a lack of resources on campus, but rather a lack of in-your-face info. “I didn’t look around,” says Golicher of resources for dealing with sexual assault. “I didn’t pay attention until it happened to me.”
Golicher says that the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have definitely made an impression on college campuses, lending to more conversation about sexual assault in general, and to more conversations between men and women, specifically.
“Males can be weird about it, but I’ve seen that they’re ready to stand next to females, we’re able to talk about it,” says Golicher.
Last October a sexual assault was reported at a residence hall on CofC’s campus. After the incident, according to the Post & Courier, the College refused to release “basic information about the case as required under the state’s open records law,” namely the location of the residence hall at which the assault occurred.
As a current student and sexual assault survivor, Golicher has mixed feelings about CofC’s response to requests for the residence hall location to be released. “Knowing [where it happened] could be helpful — you could figure out if you need more security cameras, etc.,” says Golicher. “But, being a victim, [once you can] narrow in on who that person could be … a lot of people aren’t ready to talk about it.”
SAAW is a major resource for CofC students, yes, but the week looks to transcend the direct needs of college kids. “I’m passionate about children,” says Golicher. “They don’t have the loudest voice.”
Half of the proceeds from SAAW (coming from the aforementioned charity bake sale and dodge ball tourney, as a well as a “percent night” at Fuel) will be donated to the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, which helps keep local kids safe from abuse. The SAAW committee has partnered with students from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for a combined fundraising initiative; half of the proceeds raised during CofC’s SAAW will be donated to a charity in South Dakota.