Students call for recognition for Sexual Assault Awareness Month from the administration


Members of the Vagina Monologues practice. The performance is one of the events that will be held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  

Brandi Doyal, Print News Editor


Students participating in Sexual Assault Awareness month emailed President Michael Fitts about the administration’s lack of response to the events students have been organizing in relation to the sexual assault awareness.

President Fitts responded to these messages on Monday by email, which can be viewed here. The basic message many Tulane students sent was: 

Hi President Fitts,

I just read your “View from Gibson” and was wondering if you were going to comment on the organizing and multiple protests surrounding the issue of sexual assault on our campus. I understand that Divest has done an incredible job organizing their sit-in, but this past week alone, students from the Vagina Monologues raised over $10,000 to fight gender-based violence, and then staged a protest to call on the administration to address the epidemic of sexual assault on our campus. One of these protests, “Tulane University Carry That Weight” was also part of a national event and received coverage from the national branch, The Tulane Hullaballoo, and other news outlets. Divest is not the only group organizing and your failure to acknowledge the effort to fight sexual assault speaks to your inactivity and neglect to this issue that is plaguing Tulane University students. Both of these issues, as well as countless others, are important and demand your attention.

[Your Name]

Original Story: 

Tulane students are banding with the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion, Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education, Newcomb College Institute and the Student Health Center together to host Sexual Assault Awareness Month this month.

Sexual Assault Awareness month includes a variety of events including guest speakers, “The Vagina Monologues,” film screenings and other events to raise awareness of sexual aggression on college campuses.

Samantha Campbell, senior and co-director of “The Vagina Monologues,” said the month is dedicated to helping survivors and preventing acts of violence on our campus.

“Sexual Assault Awareness month is an awesome series of events focusing on sexual violence and gender-based violence that’s a result of various students and student organizations recognizing an issue organizing to find solutions,” Campbell said. “While some events are focused on specifically raising awareness, others are focused on providing support for survivors, or calling on the Tulane administration for policy changes.”

New initiatives this year include painting the windows of the Lavin-Bernick Center and a Carry That Weight campaign.

The Carry That Weight campaign is inspired a Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who has carried a dorm mattress around campus with her as long as her rapist continues to attend Columbia University. The event, will take place on April 13 as part of a national campaign.

Campbell said students can show their support either by carrying a pillow case or taping a red X on their clothes.

“With this demonstration, we want to debunk the myth that sexual assault is always shocking and extreme like the [University of Virginia] case,” Campbell said. “It happens more often than many realize and not recognizing the more subtle cases is a barrier to ending rape culture.”

Junior Courtney Liss, a member of “The Vagina Monologues” who organized the window painting event, said volunteers will paint the LBC windows with messages including “this is not your fault,” “we believe you” and “you are not alone.” Members of SAPHE will also hand out informational postcards during the day at the LBC.

Liss said this could bring awareness about rape culture and how the university addresses these incidents.

“I think it could be a good chance for Tulane to not look like jerks about sexual assault, and for students to make a difference nationally,” Liss said. “[This month is] also really personal to me, which is why I actually am doing the window painting project. Studies show that the first person who responds to a survivor’s story shapes how they view the incident and how they deal with it.”

Liss said she hopes the window painting will change how people think about rape culture.

“I’m putting the appropriate messaging on the windows of our school to demonstrate that the institutional response is not a victim-blaming one, and to demonstrate what appropriate messaging looks like,” Liss said.

Campbell said another part of the month is asking more of Tulane’s administration to change the environment survivors of sexual assault face on campus.

“We want to call on Tulane University’s administration to reform how they process sexual assault through Student Conduct, so that survivors are not left facing those who assaulted them every day on campus,” Campbell said. “[We need to] provide more sensitivity training with TUPD so they are working appropriately with survivors, putting them and their needs first.”

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