ASU multi-faith organization aims to combat rape culture through book club

Interfaith organization SunDABT is using the book club to "create a toolbox for addressing rape culture"

With a constantly increasing volume of discussion on the topic of rape culture on American college campuses, people are continuously responding in different ways.

Students in the organization Sun Devils Are Better Together, SunDABT, have responded by centering their mission focus for the semester on eradicating rape culture in communities centered around faith. 

SunDABT said they are trying to accomplish this goal by teaming up with the ASU Sexual Violence Prevention office and putting on a book club this semester called The Lion's Tooth Book Club.

Rachel Sondgeroth, the president of SunDABT and a senior studying religious studies, said the book club's goal is to spread awareness of rape culture to the ASU population and the communities of the club's members.

“(The book club) comes out of our SunDABT mission imperative and our mission focus, which is abolishing rape culture in our faith communities,” Sondgeroth said. “It’s a book club to address and create a toolbox for addressing rape culture.”

Sondgeroth and Samantha Hill, the vice president of SunDABT and a senior studying global studies and psychology, are both facilitating and writing the curriculum for the book study together as it progresses through the semester.

SunDABT has received a $1100 grant from Changemaker Central for the book club. 

Hill said they are using most of the money on the reading resources for the book study.

Hill said SunDABT is also putting on an event called Dinner & Dialogue where people not involved in the book study can come and still participate. 

"Dinner & Dialogues are like a community conversation," Hill said. "So we'll get together and talk about something that's pressing in our community. We'll have dinner, and it's supposed to be like a casual gathering."

The next Dinner & Dialogue is tentative, but will be hosted within the next few months, club leadership said.

Hill said it’s especially important that this conversation is happening on college campuses.

“I think this is a very prevalent problem within student organizations because we interact with each other and this kind of stuff happens, especially with our age group,” Hill said.

She cited a statistic on the Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness site, which said 9.9 percent of female students reported being sexually assaulted against their will.

Read more: University's annual crime report: sexual violence increases on campus

Baani Khurana, a member of SunDABT and a senior studying computer science, said the book club aims to help those who have already been affected by sexual violence.

“I think that also means standing up and fighting for those who may not necessarily have their own voice to speak up,” Khurana said. “And in this case, and in the case of this book club, been supporting survivors and believing them and giving them the empowerment and a safe space to exchange and dialogue.”

Sondgeroth also said how another emphasis of the book study was for the participants to take the information they learned back to their respective communities and faith communities, hence the name of the book study.

Sondgeroth said they named the Lion's Tooth project as a nod towards dandelions.

“We’re creating this hub of leaders who are becoming educated on rape culture and, ideally, once they go through this literature, they learn more about it, they're given the tools necessary to also educate their communities," Sondgeroth said. "So it's kind of like this proliferation of knowledge.”

Hill said they hope to use this method to reach many more people than just those participating.

“If all of these 10 participants take it back to their communities, the idea can reach 100 people” Hill said. “... So even though the book club itself might be small, we're hoping that the ideas that are taken outside of the book club tend to reach more people.”

Khurana said that she hopes they create an environment where they can bring up any issue that they need to talk about.

“We are creating that safe environment for people to have conversations about sexual violence, harassment, concern and even just talking about what a healthy relationship even looks like,” she said.


Reach the reporter at tlhill9@asu.edu and follow @hilltroy99 on Twitter. 

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