UW-FDL shows support for SAAM with denim


Courtesy of Savanna Peterson

Denim jeans show supportive messages for display.

Joseph Schulz, Regional Editor

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is in full swing at UW-Fond du Lac. On Monday, assistant director of health promotion at UW Oshkosh Juliana Kahrs gave a speech about the definition of consent. Monday through Wednesday, students wrote experiences and supportive messages on cut-out paper jeans, and Wednesday, students participated in Denim Day activities.

Denim Day originated as a way to show support for victims of sexual assault after a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans.

The UWFDL Psyched for Psych club has taken an integral role in promoting sexual assault awareness on campus. They are running the paper jeans activity, all of the Denim Day activities and will be stringing the paper jeans up in the commons Thursday.

Club president Maddie Nolan said the paper jeans activity is designed to provide support for victims of sexual assault and let them know that they aren’t alone.

“This does happen, sadly, on college campuses,” Nolan said.

Vice president Savanna Peterson said they chose the commons on campus to hang the paper jeans because it’s a high-traffic area.

“We figured by showing just how many people are affected, and want to support them, and have been involved in horrible situations, that it would kind of make people come together and realize they aren’t alone,” Peterson said.

Maddie Nolan and Savanna Peterson write supportive messages for sexual assualt awareness.
Courtesy of Clayton Mundell
Maddie Nolan and Savanna Peterson write supportive messages for sexual assualt awareness.

Club member Luke Tacke said Peterson has taken a hands-on role in planning events around sexual assault awareness.

“Maddie and I served as a helpful committee to bounce ideas off one another, plan and organize meetings, gather materials and ensure projects went as smoothly as possible,” Tacke said.

Peterson said sexual assault is an issue that’s extremely important to her because one of her family members was a victim of sexual assault.

“She is married and happy now, but there are days where I go up to her and she is crying about that situation and that event in her life,” Peterson said.

Peterson said she feels like victims of sexual assault are put into a box where they are forced to hide their experience and be ashamed of it.

“By putting them in boxes and not wanting to talk about the problem, we aren’t doing people justice who have been emotionally hurt,” Peterson said.

Nolan said Peterson has been raising awareness for victims of sexual assault since high school, which they attended together in Markesan.

“She started running a Denim Day thing at our high school with ribbons, bracelets and presentations,” Nolan said.

Peterson said she pitched events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month at a Psyched for Psych club meeting, and Nolan ran with it.

“We felt like it tied into Psych Club because it’s such a psychological issue,” Peterson said. “We felt we would be able to tie into the logistics of how people deal with being victims of sexual assault.”

On Wednesday they ran a Denim Day contest to see who could wear the best denim, and they also partook in a myth fact sheet activity debunking common misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, Peterson said.

“[Denim Day] always falls on a Wednesday because they like to have it in the middle of the week because people are more likely to be at work or at school,” Peterson said.

Nolan said she hopes the events and activities will help put an end to the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault.

“The cause of sexual assault is always 100% the perpetrator’s fault, not the victim’s fault,” Nolan said. “I wish people would recognize that.”