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Consent Week aims for survivor support with safe space, interactive panel

By Shreya Maskara

Jan. 16, 2017 8:48 p.m.

Students organizing UCLA’s fourth annual Consent Week will focus this year’s program on encouraging dialogue between administrators and students and providing safe spaces for sexual assault survivors.

Bruin Consent Coalition, a committee in the undergraduate student government Student Wellness Commission, aims to inform students about consent and sexual and gender-based violence. The committee will host events from Tuesday to Friday such as “Mini-Clothesline Display” to display support for survivors and “Queer Talks,” an interactive panel about sexual violence in the LGBTQ community.

Consent Week will be held the same week as the presidential inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has talked on record about groping, kissing and attempting to have sex with married women.

“This election has been very toxic in terms of the discussion surrounding sexual assault,” said Sophia Arim, co-director of the Bruin Consent Coalition and a fourth-year history student.

The coalition will be hosting a yoga session Friday called Yoga for Healing, Arim added. The event will provide a space for all students and survivors regardless of their political affiliations, specifically on the day of Trump’s inauguration.

“Campus and ongoing political climate has affected survivors gravely as they (may) feel like their experiences have been completely diminished,” she said. “We want them to have a safe place to heal and recover.”

[Related: Bruin Consent Coalition offers support for sexual assault survivors]

Yong-Yi Chiang, a third-year international development studies student and another Bruin Consent Coalition co-director, added that campus climate has been heated due to recent protests on campus against history professor Gabriel Piterberg who was accused by two graduate students of sexual harassment.

She added she thinks due to such issues it is crucial to understand the importance of events such as “Know Your Rights,” an interactive panel offered during Consent Week.

The event will give students a chance to ask questions to representatives from the Campus Assault Resources and Education Office, UCPD and the Title IX Office about supporting survivors and student rights regarding workplace harassment, said Chiang.

“The event will give us a chance to talk to the administration even when we are upset with them,” Chiang said. “It is crucial to have a good working relationship with them in order to continue long-term advocacy for the survivors and keeping them accountable.”

Chiang said she thinks students around campus have been feeling very overwhelmed with rhetoric surrounding the upcoming presidential inauguration, Piterberg and University of California Regent Norman Pattiz, who was recorded sexually harassing a former employee.

“Our event hopes to give students a chance to just be there for the survivors and have a healing space,” she said. “The discussion around the inauguration doesn’t aim to be pro or against Donald Trump.”

Neha Vasudeva, the membership development director of Bruin Consent Coalition said she thinks it is important to remember Consent Week is organized for the survivors.

“During a time when we have a sexual predator on campus and a (president-elect) that has been accused of sexual assault, it is important to provide a space for survivors to feel safe and comfortable,” she added.

Arim also said members of the coalition are trying to ensure they co-program with different communities to ensure they can share their individual experiences with sexual assault and violence.

Arim added the coalition’s event, “Queer Talks,” to be held Wednesday at the De Neve Acacia lounge, will give students a space to discuss how cultural norms can promote gender-based violence.

Chiang said she thinks though Consent Week is one of the biggest events the coalition organizes, it does not yet represent all of the communities with which the coalition hopes to program.

“We want to co-program with more communities,” Chiang said. “Bruin Consent Coalition has always wanted different community members to be able to share their own experiences themselves.”

Read more Daily Bruin coverage of the presidential inauguration, along with analysis of California and federal policy under the Trump Administration:


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Shreya Maskara | Assistant news editor
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