By Gabrielle Cook
The mission of the Coalition to End Rape Culture (CERC) is to inspire critical discourse around the issue of rape and sexual violence, educate the campus community, change social norms, and demand that the administration implement programs to better address and combat the culture of violence that exists on campus.
What is rape culture? Rape culture is a culture where people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe rape is inevitable.
The first event that they sponsored in the fall was a letter writing campaign to the UMass administration, where students sent 60 letters to administrators about how these tragic events, such as the incidents at Amherst College and at UMass, had personally affected them. Then there was the Speak Out and Stand Up mic night at Earthfoods Cafe, which created space for 150 people to have intentional conversations and showed how much public support there was to do something about what had happened. Thus, the Coalition includes Center of Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), Center for Women and Community (CWC), the Student Government Association (SGA) and students and faculty across the campus. The coalition’s objectives are:
-Raise awareness, information, resources, space to talk-Different events with different core groups which include: a promotional group, a film screening, a rally/march, pledges, a community art project, and educational workshops.
2) To set a precedent of getting people to continuously think about rape culture in different ways
Patrick Sadlon, a member of the CERC says, “Although I have never been directly affected by rape culture, I know many friends that have and I recognize the need to change the way we have conversations about rape. Knowing that 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and with two sisters and a mother back home, I find it horrifying that one of them will possibly be a victim of sexual assault. So I fight for them and I fight for a world where my family can walk safely at night.”
Events for the Week of Action Against Rape Culture:
Tuesday, February 26 – Screening of Flirting with Danger: Power and Consent in Heterosexual Relationships. Thompson 102. There will be free pizza at 6:30PM, the film will start at 7:00, and a Q&A session with professors Lynn Phillips and Sut Jhally will follow the screening.
Wednesday, February 27 – Community Art Project: Recognize Reality, Create the Future. 10:00AM – 4:00PM on the Campus Center Concourse.
Thursday, February 28 – Sexual Violence Prevention Workshops with Educator-Advocates from the CWC
- Workshop One: 12:00pm-2:00pm Campus Center Room 165
- Workshop Two: 5:00pm – 7:00pm Campus Center Room 165
Friday, March 1 – Rally Against Rape Culture. Gather at the Student Union Steps at 4:00