Hundreds of students and faculty gathered around the Bell Tower on March 30, where representatives from the Wellness Resource Center discussed the importance of creating kind and compassionate spaces to break the silence around sexual assault.
“It is an opportunity for the campus community to come together and learn how we can collectively envision a world free or a campus free of sexual violence,” said Liz Zadnik, associate director at the Wellness Resource Center.
Temple University’s WRC kicked off its programming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last Wednesday by hosting the fourth annual WalkTU, a walk around Main Campus in support of sexual assault survivors. Students walked from the Bell Tower to Morgan Hall to the CVS on 12th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue and back to the Bell Tower.
The WRC, Tuttleman Counseling Services and Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence [WOAR], a center that advocates against sexual violence, set up tables around the Bell Tower on Wednesday to inform students about resources like counseling services and educational programs about sexual violence before and after the walk.
While working the table, WOAR informed attendees of their resources, including their 24-hour hotline, online chat, individual or group counseling services and educational and training programs.
WOAR enjoys working with universities because there are many young people passionate about combating sexual assault, said Amy Filap, education and training specialist at WOAR.
“I hope that they gain knowledge of resources,” Filap said. “I hope that they feel inspired and encouraged to work to create safer spaces for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
Tuttleman Counseling’s Resilience Resource Center also operated a table to share resources for self-help and coping skills, including for their workshops on time management, mindfulness and positive self-talk.
Tejas Dodia initially came to WalkTU for the free goodie bags with water bottles and pins, but ended up learning about the importance of supporting sexual assaults survivors.
“You have to be an active member of the community,” said Dodia, a senior graphic and interactive design major. “And if you want to be an active member, you have to be socially aware.”
Natalie Kimmerlein, a WRC representative, tabled WalkTU for the first time on Wednesday. She hopes the event will help students realize the importance of speaking up about sexual assault and supporting each other.
“I think it’s just really important to promote a culture of care and a culture of consent on campus to have people speak up,” said Kimmerlein, a junior public health major, HEART peer educator and alcohol and other drugs prevention program assistant at WRC.
Many sexual assaults go unreported because survivors are worried they won’t be taken seriously or will face retaliation if they share their experiences, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law, policy think tank and advocacy center.
Campus Safety Services received six reports of rape on Main Campus in 2020, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Temple’s 2021 Annual Security Report.
Zadnik feels hosting events like WalkTU are important, especially at the university level, because there is a shared sense of identity and belonging, which hopefully will encourage more survivors to speak up.
“Events like this can really bring folks together in an environment where they live, learn and work,” Zadnik said.
WalkTU began as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes in 2012, a walk for male students to show their support for women on campus. Based on student feedback, the event was changed to WalkTU in 2017 to be more inclusive, Zadnik said.
Events like WalkTU are steps towards addressing sexual assault but conversations and activism around sexual assault need to happen all year, Filap said.
“It has to be consistent in order for us to see that change that we want to see in the culture,” Filap said.
How to Support a Survivor, a discussion of ways to support survivors and make the world a better place
April 5 at 5:30 p.m.
Room 217AB of the Howard Gittis Student Center
Creating Cultures of Consent and Healing with Veronica Agard, a lecture about intersectionality
April 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Room 200C of the Howard Gittis Student Center
Clothesline Project, a display of T-shirts made by survivors at Temple.
April 14 at 12 p.m.
Denim Day, participants will wear denim in support of sexual assault survivors.