Personal Sextivism and the #AUNoMoreSilence Rally!

So grateful to be able to speak at the #NoMoreSilenceRally and work with so many fabulous activists!

So grateful to be able to speak at the #NoMoreSilenceRally and work with so many fabulous activists!

Transformative Activism at American University

I could not have imagined a better way to wind down my freshman year. I have spent the last couple of days organizing with some of the most passionate, hardworking activists and people I have ever met. I have seen the passion for social justice give people a sense of purpose, a sense of community, the feeling of belonging. I have seen people be transformed through exposure to community organizing and collective, direct action. I have felt myself be transformed. I came to American University in order to grow, in order to be surrounded with peers who have my same passion for social justice and the desire to create positive change. AU is one of the best places to be mentored and taught how to organize. I have had wonderful professors push me to challenge the status quo and I have had upperclassmen go out of their way to mentor me.

The No More Silence Coalition

Recently, documents that contain screenshots of text messages and a Google listserv that contain misogynistic, homophobic, racist comments along with commentary that suggests the premeditated sexual assault of women, were leaked. In response, a self-identified coalition which calls itself AU’s No More Silence was formed. This group was created and able to mobilize a group of about 30-50 people to speak out and rally. The coalition was formed and was able to execute this rally in less than a week. The group was aimed at garnering attention and placing pressure on the administration to take action in light of the emails that were recently leaked by an anonymous source. The emails and the rape culture they are symptomatic of prove that the school is NOT doing enough to prevent sexual assault on campus. This group has been able to reach out to social media, obtain 1500+ people to sign a petition which lists a call to action and list of demands and even organize a rally and march. American University prides itself for having a politically engaged student body, and for having a student body that finds strength in diversity. Thing group asked that AU make it’s students and alumni proud by responding to the demands and following through with the “change” that was promised to now-alumnus but have not yet been realized.

Grateful for Solidarity

I was lucky enough to be a part of this group, to learn from the members of this group and act in solidarity with this coalition. Personally, this experience of coalition building, planning and mobilizing was a growing experience. I am so grateful for all of the upperclassmen, alumni and faculty supporters who helped a group predominantly made up of freshman take leadership roles and learn hands-on how to organize. I am grateful for the Public Safety officers who marched with us to ensure our safety. I am grateful for the opportunity to be heard and to make topics that have gone undisclosed for way too long.One of American University’s greatest assets is the active student body.

I Marched Because:

  • I want safety to be prioritized over PR
  • I want a campus culture that rejects rape culture, homophobia, racism and aggression.
  • I care about American University, and I want it to make me proud.

Read more about the leaked emails and the EI scandal by clicking the links below: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/04/21/leaked-fraternity-emails-outrage-many-at-american-university/

http://dcist.com/2014/04/hundreds_call_for_american_universi.php

 

Sextivist Profile: Daniel Rappaport

Involvement with Sextivism: Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy

Degrees: M.A Mental Health Counseling; B.A. Psychology, Certificate in Women’s Studies

Preferred Pronouns: he, his, hers

Meeting Daniel Rappaport

As soon as I met Daniel Rappaport, at his office in the Wellness Center at American University, my first reaction was to feel at ease. His reputation preceded him, as everyone I talked to on campus who had dealt with him or was a member of PEERS (Peer Educators for the Elimination of Relationship and Sexual Violence) spoke very highly about his ability to be inclusive, understanding and passionate about his field of work. I was relieved to find out that this was all true, and was grateful for his eagerness to share his work with me and discuss his activism.

How did he get the job he has now?

As an undergrad student at the University of Maryland, Daniel Rappaport majored in Psychology and was a part of a social justice-themed living-learning community. Soon after, he joined a campus peer educators group that focused on issues relating to preventing rape and safer sex practices. Later he became a Victims’ Advocate and began to hone his expertise in helping survivors of sexual aggression cope and move forward after traumatic situations.

What does he do? What’s his role at American University?

Daniel Rappaport’s official job title is: Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator. When asked what this translates into, Mr. Rappaport says that this job title encompasses overseeing campus-wide events that provide inclusive, accurate education, assisting on-campus groups who are working with topics that relate to health relationships, and the prevention of rape and stalking. However, he pointed out that his role is much greater than that, as the only source on campus who is not obligated to report up information, in relation to sexual assault, he also serves as a victims’ advocate for students who are not sure, or do not want to press charges or officially report something that has been done to them. Lastly, part of his duties include meeting with his colleagues from universities in our consortium to discuss how to better serve students.

Important aspects of his work:

  1. Being available: Daniel Rappaport emphasized his effort to be readily available for as long, and as frequently as people request him because he feels that due to the fact that triggers affect individuals in different ways, at different times throughout their life.
  2. Protecting the rights of survivors of violence: He emphasized the role of preserving the agency  of individuals who have suffered violence. This entails supporting the decisions of survivors to prosecute (or not),  filing reports with public safety (or not), moving dorm rooms if necessary and helping provide them the resources necessary to heal and make educated decisions about the possible courses of action.
  3. Helping survivors of violence build skills for coping and healing.
  4. Enabling anyone and everyone who is interested in preventing sexual assault and violence to do so by disseminating resources and creating programming that allows them to easily get involved.

How does his being male effect his job?

When asked how being male effects his job, Daniel Rappaport notes that it adds a whole other dimension to his work. He says that on many occasions, he has been the only male in the room when discussing courses of action for campus-wide programming with his colleagues. However, he said that because he has so much experience as a Victims’ Advocate, and he is usually the person most readily available to students at AU (because he works on-campus), most survivors of sexual assault usually feel comfortable confiding in him and asking him for help. In all cases though, he offers to locate a female Victims’ Advocate (usually one of his colleagues that works at a school in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area) for students in case they will feel more comfortable discussing their experience with them.

Take Away

“We need to never settle, we need to never think the job is done. We need to constantly be improving and working until there is gender equity and the eradication of violence.” – Daniel Rappaport

Want more info on Sexual Assault Prevention, Resources and how to get involved?