Lifestyle

Art group addresses sexual assault issues on campus

A group of students hung banners and posters in order to start a conversation about sexual assault.

At the beginning of December, Take the Time, a group of five students in a self-guided community arts class at Temple hung up posters, stickers, banners and a sign that read: “Why don’t men have time to talk about sexual assault?”

The banners were put in seven different spots around Main Campus, including the front of Tomlinson Theater, Ritter Hall, Saxbys on Liacouras Walk and the Bell Tower. Flyers and stickers bearing the same message were also put in the men’s bathrooms of some academic buildings.

“[Sexual assault] happens in so many forms and it’s so common that it often flies under the radar, but it has a huge bearing on the way that gender and sex are viewed and how people are treated in the workplace, on streets, in their homes and essentially everywhere,” said one of the members of the group, a junior visual studies major. She asked not to be named in this story because she is a victim of sexual assault.

They will not likely hang up any more signs on campus, since the initiative was part of a community arts class that ended last semester. Still, the group member said the group will maintain its email and Facebook page and hopes to host a conversation night at some point in the future, where both men and women could voice their opinions on the issue of sexual assault.

“If I can get my friends who have never been affected by sexual assault to understand how to fight it anyway, if I can get strangers to feel comforted by the thought that other people care and want to change this oppressive force and if I can empower men who feel as though they can’t talk about it to talk about it, that’s a very fine start in my book,” she said.

The original idea for the project was to host an event in which members of a fraternity or a men’s sports team, and volunteers could ask each other questions about sexual assault, share their experiences and provide support to each other. The goal was to foster an environment in which a taboo subject could be discussed.

The group member said she reached out to nearly 20 officers of fraternities and sports teams, but she received only two responses, both of which were negative.

“This was frustrating to us so our question became, ‘Why don’t men have time to talk about sexual assault?’” she said.

The team members turned to a different strategy, which included creating the stickers, flyers, banners and signs in hopes that people would take it upon themselves to start conversations about sexual assault even without the help of those organizations.

The idea for the project began in September, and the group hung up the signs in November and December.

The group member said most of the reactions she has received have been positive and encouraging, but some other students felt offended because the sign seemed to target men. The group member said she agrees the language can be problematic, especially for men who are victims of sexual assault.

“It made me happy to know someone was tackling the problem at hand in their own way,” said Samuel Trilling, a freshman political science and journalism major. “And although the topic is a little more nuanced than the statement makes it seem, it made me look, it made others look and it made us all think.”

The group member said she received emails from other students, including sorority members, who were interested in incorporating the project into their programming.

“This was personal to all of us,” the group member said. “I didn’t understand consent until a few months ago, because no one had ever asked me for it. I never understood until recently how much that had affected me and my relationships.”

“It’s not unique to Temple, but raising awareness here is a start,” she said.

Taylor Horn can be reached at taylor.suzanne.horn@temple.edu.

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