Tables at Taylor Mall on the Downtown campus were manned by students and faculty ready to hand out stickers that read “I protest sexual violence,” as well as pamphlets, pens, sunglasses and bracelets. On Thursday, all four ASU campuses joined in to show their support for Denim Day.
Fifteen years ago, a woman was raped and justices in the Italian Supreme court overturned her case because her jeans were too tight. They said that she had to have helped her assailant remove her pants, which implied consent. The next day, women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans to work in protest.
Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has been a way to show support and unify against sexual violence.
Denim Day falls on a Wednesday in April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. This year, Denim Day is April 23, but ASU observed it Thursday in conjunction with its sexual awareness week.
Victoria De Saint-Erne, a tourism freshman and member of DPC Aware, helped set up and run a Denim Day table in Taylor Mall at the Downtown campus.
“It’s sexual violence awareness month, (and) we’re doing a sexual violence awareness week on ASU,” she said. “We’re just trying to spread that awareness.”
She said it is important for student-run organizations such as DPC Aware to inform students about sexual violence because students are more likely to listen to their peers than authority figures.
Students hung a poster outside Taylor Place for people to sign saying that they are against sexual violence.
“We have our poster set up where we’re having people sign and getting aware of sexual violence and saying they are going to stand up to it,” she said.
They also directed students to the free STD testing by Maricopa County Public Health on campus. The free STD testing was part of the county’s Get Added campaign that encourages at risk individuals to take initiative and get tested.
Paulina Sanchez, a tourism and development management senior, stopped by the Denim Day table to grab a sticker and show her support.
She said things like stickers are important because a lot of students just wear jeans and don’t know what they are supporting.
Sanchez first heard about Denim Day as a freshman. This year, she has worked to promote the day to students through Facebook groups and word of mouth. She said events such as Denim Day help improve campus safety by teaching students about the risks and about how to stay safe.
“A lot of students have either … come from very sheltered (backgrounds) or just homes that are not the nicest, so just letting them know about the dangers and letting them know how to stay safe, even when you think you’re the safest, I think it’s very key,” she said.
Kayla Valdez, health sciences pre-professional junior and member of DPC Aware, said she thinks on-campus observation of Denim Day will encourage students to talk about sexual violence and to acknowledge that it is still a real problem that happens every day.
“It’s important just to teach people about sexual violence awareness, what’s wrong and how to stand up for yourself,” Valdez said.
Valdez said younger people might not think about sexual violence as something that could happen to them, but it is a real thing and students need to be aware of what they are doing and aware of their surroundings.
“Just don’t be naive,” she said. “Always have someone that you feel like you can really trust with you if you’re (going to) go out, like a girl friend. Don’t go out alone, don’t get in stranger’s cars, don’t give a lot of personal information out to people, because you can’t really trust people.”
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