Temple Student Government began hosting on-campus events on Monday for its Sexual Assault Prevention Week, an initiative that was part of the administration’s platform last spring.
TSG, along with the Wellness Resource Center and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, has coordinated a series of events on Main Campus, including self-defense and bystander intervention workshops and a panel with representatives from different Temple resource offices.
Sexual Assault Prevention Week began on Monday when TSG hosted an event inviting students to sign an “It’s On Us” poster against sexual assault in the Founder’s Garden. TSG worked with Tom Johnson, the assistant director of the WRC, and George Kenney, the senior adviser to the president for government affairs, to bring Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Michael Stack to campus for the hour-long event.
“One of the things about sexual assault is sometimes, for whatever reason, people just can’t speak up,” Stack told The Temple News. “Only when you have your peers involved are you going to be able to solve this problem. It’s crucial and important, and Temple kids are doing it right.”
Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf spoke at an It’s On Us press conference in Harrisburg, announcing new legislation to help survivors of sexual assault report to universities. Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes also gave a speech.
Valerie Harrison, senior adviser to the president for compliance, and Andrea Seiss, Temple’s Title IX coordinator, said TSG approached their offices about assisting with the week of events. The EOC office will sponsor giveaways at Friday’s football game and throughout the week. Seiss will also sit on Wednesday’s resource panel.
Women Organized Against Rape, Philadelphia’s only rape crisis center, operates a satellite office on Main Campus. WOAR will have a representative on the resource panel but was not involved in the planning process, Seiss said.
“I am very excited about [Sexual Assault Prevention Week] because it is entirely student-conceived and student-planned,” Harrison said. “We are here to offer support, but this is a student event.”
TSG also reached out to student organizations to attend, Mann-Barnes said. The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Queer People of Color, Queer Student Union and Student Activists Against Sexual Assault were invited.
“We want organizations both on and off campus to be present this week to remind students of the necessary resources they may need,” Mann-Barnes said. “We encouraged organizations to come out, be involved and set an example.”
He added that TSG’s marketing team are using social media and print materials to get the word out about the week.
TSG is targeting freshmen by reaching out to resident assistants who have freshmen in their buildings and collaborating with Laura Randolph, an associate director in University Housing and Residential Life. TSG also had a table during RA training to promote Sexual Assault Prevention Week.
TSG will encourage students to continue their advocacy by signing up to participate in the March to End Rape Culture, an annual rally in Center City, on Sept. 30.
Next semester, TSG will participate in WalkTU, the WRC’s annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month kickoff event. Last year, Mann-Barnes, who is the current vice president of SAASA, worked with Johnson to “revamp” the program and make it more inclusive to all genders, Mann-Barnes said. The program used to be titled “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and had men wear high heels and walk around campus to stand up to sexual assault.
“We hope, through this week, students will realize that they can do something,” he added. “Whether it’s by being a good bystander through intervention or seeking the help they need, there are resources available to them and we want them to be aware of them.”