EWU clubs host anti-assault rally

Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU heads rally for sexual assault awareness


Photo by Karissa Berg

Planned Parenthood club rally near Patterson Hall at EWU.

By Kalli Wolf, Staff Writer

The EWU Against Rape Culture Rally was held in the outskirts of the PUB on Nov. 3 from noon to 1:00 p.m.

The rally was put on by Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU and co-sponsored by the Scary Feminists, a student organization focused around social justice and gender and feminist politics, according to EWU’s website.

Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU is a new club to Eastern. “We are the liaison between Eastern and Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. We are a movement of young people across identities to empower and inform the university,” said Public Affairs Campus Organizer and Co-President of the club, Alexis Griggs, junior Women and Gender Studies and Psychology major. “What I really want to emphasize is that we are not a club that sits around and just ‘talks’ about all the social injustices in the world, but we are actually trying to do something about it,” said Griggs.

A recent Letter to the Editor printed in The Easterner written by EWU senior Rebekkah Shelp with the help of EWU graduates Kelli Crawford and Brit Davis, touched on the issue of the language used in the timely warnings, stating it is “perpetuating rape culture.” According to Griggs, the letter was what inspired the club to put together a rally. In regards to Shelp, Griggs said, “She was brave enough to speak out about an issue that most people would rather stay silent about.”

The rally encouraged all students to participate and many faculty members came by and spoke with Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU members as well. Students made signs and put teal duct tape, the color for sexual assault awareness, over their mouths. The idea was to create a social media campaign in order to spread awareness to a larger audience. Some of the signs used the hashtag #NotOnMyRedTurf, inspired by Shelp’s letter, and participants walked around campus holding their signs in order to take a stand against issues of rape, rape culture and sexual assault.

According to Vice President of Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU, junior Janie Wright, the club wanted to change the conversation regarding sexual assault. “That’s what we’re trying to change, the idea that it has anything to do with the victim,” she said. “Rape or sexual assault happens because there is someone creating that [situation].” She said they wanted to change the idea that the victim is at fault in any way.

Junior and Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU member McKenna Paulsen said awareness and education about consent and what it means needs to be spread. “Blaming the victims for these crimes do not prevent them from occurring in the future, however teaching others about consent can. We are here to let those who are affected by sexual assault know that we stand in support of them,” she said.

Griggs said this rally was only the first step. “One of the biggest things we hope to achieve is ensuring that students have the resources they need in case of an event like rape or sexual assault,” she said.

A total of 28 students partook in the rally. EWU junior Ashlyn Malmstrom said the rally made her consider joining the club. “Being in college and going out on the weekends, I’ve seen and heard firsthand how nonchalant people are about rape culture. I’ve heard people make jokes about rape saying, ‘no actually means yes’ and ‘just get her wasted.’” Malmstrom said she is a firm believer in no means no and the rally was really moving for her.

“I feel that this rally helped show the EWU community that rape and sexual assault are issues we need to stand against together to make our campus safe and secure,” she said. Malmstrom added that “rape and sexual assault are topics many stray away from talking about because they think it’s ‘awkward,’ but it needs to be talked about and we need to spread awareness about this rising issue.” She said she hopes this rally encouraged others to take a stand against rape culture and helps spread the word that rape and sexual assault are not acceptable.

Griggs said the club wants to have giant posters in every building on campus with a list of where students can go in times of crisis and who they can contact.
“We want to make sure they have resources readily and consistently available to them at all times,” she said.

In addition to student organization and club efforts, Eastern has a program called Start By Believing aimed to train students and faculty how to respond to someone who comes to them and says they have been sexually assaulted.

Planned Parenthood Generation Action: EWU holds meetings every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in Monroe 207. All students interested in getting involved are encouraged to attend.