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Students hold teach-in on rape culture

With two sexual batteries reported at USF last month, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) are hoping to change the “rape culture” by hosting “Break the Silence: Second Annual Rape Culture Teach-In.”

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., SDS will be on the lawn outside the Library speaking with students about how to end rape culture.

Catherine Lim, a member of SDS and USF alumna, said she wants students to walk away knowing exactly what people mean when they talk about rape culture and the way in which it manifests itself in social relationships.

“Society teaches don’t get raped instead of don’t rape,” Lim said. “If we tell people what rape culture is and how it manifests, then maybe we can stop the problem rather than telling women they need to take self-defense classes or get a gun.”

Catherine Churchwell, a junior majoring in international business and an SDS member, said the group will be partnering with the Black Student Union, Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention and the Sexual Violence Task Force to bring sexual violence prevention advocates and poetry readings to campus.

“We will be covering a variety of topics from victim bullying and blaming, to rape myths and facts,” Churchwell said. “We want to show students how these issues apply to college life at USF.”

The speaker list will include Iris Prince-Johnson from the Black Student Union and educators from the Center for Victim Advocacy.

Churchwell said they want to address specific issues that many SDS members say they’ve seen around campus.

“I hear a lot of ‘Oh, she probably regrets having sex with him and that’s why she’s filing charges.’ It’s an atmosphere on campus where people who are rape survivors don’t feel comfortable around students and administration,” she said.

Members of SDS hope the teach-in will further their year-long struggle with administration to include rape education to accompany the safe-sex and alcohol education sessions given to new students at orientation.

“They are meeting new people, they are away from home and they are pretty unaware of what consent actually is,” Lim said. “If they have to learn about sex and drugs then why shouldn’t they have to learn about sexual violence prevention?”

Lim said SDS believes if students are made aware of rape culture and consent during their orientation, it might help to alleviate some of the problems around the university.

“There are so many misconceptions about sexual violence,” Lim said. “I don’t think people see how their actions affect other people, and how that rape joke they just made might sound to a rape survivor.”