AARON SKUBBY, News Editor—The event “Survivor Support in a Politicized World” brought together four different campus organizations to discuss the politicization of sexual violence in the United States and how Denison students can help break the cycle.
The event was coordinated by the Denison Coalition for Sexual Respect (DCSR), and was presented in collaboration with Denison College Republicans, Denison Democrats, and Sexual Harassment & Assault Resources and Education (SHARE).
The event took place on October 6, with both in-person and virtual attendees.
Sexual violence has been an important issue in the current election cycle, and DCSR president Nalani Wean ‘21 took the initiative to address the issue at Denison. “I was hoping to create a space where both members from both parties could take responsibility for both the positive and negative ways in which their candidates and party-members have influenced discussions about sexual violence,” she said, “and where students could be honest about the ways in which they might struggle with having to choose between two candidates who have been accused of this misconduct.”
The event featured a presentation about political policy and conduct as pertains to sexual violence and an open discussion between participants and leaders in campus political organizations.
The political nature of sexual violence is incredibly relevant to college campuses, as well. As Wean explained, “we are directly influenced by Title IX policy (much of which was recently amended by the Department of Education, making it include new definitions, processes, and more), which is something that is often highly debated along party lines.”
Wean also explained why this topic is so important during election season. “If we are going to push our representatives and our system to do better, and to be better, we need to focus on being accountable for our past and reshaping our future,” she said. “This election cycle, in particular, has emphasized the ways in which sexual violence functions as a tool of oppression and is weaponized in so many of our social and political spheres through what we have seen with survivors speaking out, media involvement, and party platforms on survivor care, sexual violence, education, and even healthcare.”
Tim Dowling ‘21, who is Vice-President of Denison Democrats, explained why it is so important to involve campus political organization in this discussion. He said, “we are representatives of the Democratic or Republican party, we represent the party as a whole on our campus. If we can start pushing that dialogue among our peers, that will work in a grassroots way to make its way towards the top.”
Wean explained the importance of continuing the conversation, saying “it is imperative that we, as students and people, understand the gravity with which sexual violence affects college students and work to cultivate an environment of sexual respect.”