Content warning: Sexual assault, rape
After Alexandra Docken told her story on a rainy Feb. 3 outside of Rowe, the conversation surrounding sexual assault on the University of Connecticut campus has increased. While the lack of action by the UConn administration and UConn Police Department is evident, there are other resources on-campus that work to promote an environment that highlights consent, provides justice and embraces victims.
Revolution Against Rape, a club here at UConn, aims to end sexual violence through education and activism. They take a specific approach in raising awareness of sexual violence and rape culture, and ultimately its effects on society and communities.
“As the Revolution Against Rape, we offer an activist action group, fighting for those who find it hard to fight for themselves,” says treasurer Grian Wizner. “We provide those who were hurt or know someone who has been hurt with love and compassion, and in addition we personally take action if the individual wants to, and make sure everyone on-campus is safe.”
Through their meetings and discussions, RAR educates members on how to be allies for victims of sexual assault. They describe the first step as believing the victim, rather than blaming them.
“Our own university doesn’t believe our students and blames them for what happens to them due to what they were wearing, what they ate and what they drank,” says Wizner. “This action makes it hard for those who were hurt to come out and try to obtain help because they are afraid of judgment.”
“AS THE REVOLUTION AGAINST RAPE, we offer an activist action group, fighting for those who find it hard to fight for themselves. we provide those who were hurt or know someone who has been hurt with love and compassion, and in addition we personally take action if the individual wants to, and make sure everyone on-campus is safe.”Grian Wizner
Aside from believing victims, Wizner stresses the importance of providing support for victim-survivors. Currently, RAR is creating a list of demands to deliver to the UConn administration.
“We deserve to feel safe on-campus, we deserve to feel like we belong — we are human too and they need to recognize that,” says Wizner. “We will not back down until we are seen.”
Following Docken’s solo act of bravery, numerous protests took place. UConn Collaborative Organization, another club here on campus, is a strong advocate for grassroots activism.
“On a college campus such as ours, protests are an important form of action that allow students to show solidarity with those who are most marginalized,” says Public Education and Outreach Chair Hannah Ravenell. “Protests also serve as a platform to build momentum and lead into further forms of organization.”
UCCO’s own mission is “to engage students in grassroots organizing and social and climate justice activism.” They focus on finding resolutions through an intersectional lens to ensure that no person is overlooked.
“ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS SUCH AS OURS, PROTESTS ARE AN IMPORTANT FORM OF ACTION THAT ALLOW STUDENTS TO SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE WHO ARE MOST MARGINALIZED. PROTESTS ALSO SERVE AS A PLATFORM TO BUILD MOMENTUM AND LEAD INTO FURTHER FORMS OF ORGANIZATION.”Hannah Ravenell
UCCO and RAR gave many of the same goals, including calling on the administration to do better, supporting survivors and allowing survivors to vocalize the harm they have experienced.
“Additionally, we have been working to further identify ways in which we can support survivors, such as connecting them to available organizations and resources,” says Ravenell.
Aside from demanding actions, UCCO emphasizes how important it is to show support alongside victim-survivors. Protests are one way of doing so.
“Standing together allows survivors to know that they aren’t alone in the fight to tell their stories, if they so choose,” says Ravenell. “As well as to secure the campus from future acts of sexual violence and harm, it is an important moment for allies to stand in solidarity and demonstrate an equal, if not greater, interest in listening and acting alongside their fellow students who may have experienced harm.”
If you are looking to support victims and your overall community, these are only a few of the ways to get involved. The Women’s Center, the UConn Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Greeks Against Sexual Assault and In-Power are other organizations on campus that serve as a resources and ways to get involved.