An Open Letter to Campus in Response to the Phi Kappa Tau Email

October 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

VOICE Initiative

For more about Georgia Tech’s sexual violence and advocacy initiative, visit voice.gatech.edu.

Dear Georgia Tech Students, Faculty and Staff,

Earlier this week, an email written by a Georgia Tech fraternity member to his chapter was widely circulated throughout our community and picked up by various news sources. The email directly encourages the use of alcohol as a coercive tool for nonconsensual sexual activity. The email and behavior described within it is reprehensible. At Georgia Tech, we define consent as an agreement that is informed, freely and actively given, and not coerced in any way. This email attempts to advance a rape culture that normalizes and even encourages sexual violence on college campuses and in society at large.

While this email came from a member of a fraternity, the issue of sexual violence is not limited to the Greek community. We take a wider community approach that advocates everyone has a role to play in sexual violence prevention. We applaud the courage of those who came forward to the administration about this email and recognize their actions as a step in challenging this inexcusable behavior.

Georgia Tech takes this issue seriously. VOICE is Georgia Tech’s sexual violence prevention and advocacy initiative that strives to create a campus culture that encourages respect, communication, and equity. VOICE believes that everyone has the right to live and learn free of violence or the threat of violence. This initiative is led by the Women’s Resource Center and Health Promotion, and is comprised of multiple campus stakeholders.

VOICE has a number of ongoing programs and events targeted at sexual violence prevention. A few upcoming programs are:

  • Safe Sister, TONIGHT, 5–9 p.m.
  • Ally Training, Oct. 25, 8:30 a.m – noon
  • Fraternity Men Against Violence (part of Man Up Week), Nov. 13, 5–9 p.m.
  • Advocate Training, Nov. 22, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Ongoing presentations to classes or student organizations by request.

These are just a few of the ways we engage students, faculty and staff on this issue. For information and to register for these and other programs, please visit voice.gatech.edu. We recognize that this student’s email has made many in our community feel unsafe, victimized, or “triggered.” VOICE will be holding open office hours on Thursday from 2:30–5 p.m. and Friday from 1–4 p.m. in the Women’s Resource Center (Suite 131, Smithgall Student Services Building) for those in need of support or advocacy. Throughout the year, an Advocate is available in the Women’s Resource Center Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. by appointment, and for emergency after hours through the Georgia Tech Police Department.

For more information on sexual violence resources on campus and in the community, or to get involved, please visit voice.gatech.edu or email voice@gatech.edu.

Please join us as we work to create a campus culture that does not tolerate sexual violence.

On behalf of the VOICE Initiative:
Melanie DeMaeyer, Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center
Lee Helmken, Violence Prevention Health Educator
Vladimir Oge, Director of Health Promotion
Colleen Riggle, Assistant Dean and Director of the Women’s Resource Center

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Shocking Protection

April 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Recently I came across an article called Shocking! Indian Engineers Introduce Electric ‘Anti-Rape’ Underwear. Intrigued I, of course, read the article. It described three engineers who were fed up with sexual violence against women. They wanted to create a way for women to fend against sexual offences.

They created SHE, or the Society Harnessing Equipment. SHE is undergarment that has been wired with pressure sensors and has an electric board that will send a shock of up to 82 volts to offenders. SHE is also equipped with a GPS system that will send an alert to parents and/or the police.

When I first read the article, I thought that the idea was great and that SHE could really help cut down on sexual violence against women. However the more I think about it the more skeptical I get. I want to believe that the underwear would solve all problems, but I couldn’t help but think about a couple of things. For one what if the woman wanted to have sexual relations with a man. Will the underwear be able to tell the difference between an offender and a non-offender? Also will it only activate with direct contact? What if someone is giving the woman wearing SHE a hug, would it still shock them?

I personally think that the idea is great. Nonetheless I feel that I need a little proof that it will work and that it won’t harm innocents.

What do you think? Read the article to find more info on the SHE and decide what you think on the new invention.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/03/shocking-indian-engineers-introduce-electric-anti-rape-underwear.html

– Erika K.

Georgia Tech Rising

February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Each year, thousands of women across the country rally together for the Vagina Monologues to speak out against sexual violence. This year we join together for One Billion Rising–a movement in which women “WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence.”

one-billion-risingSo how can you get involved? Easy! Since this movement is worldwide, there are several events being held. All you have to do is log on to onebillionrising.org and check for local V-Day events near you. They will all be taking place on February 14th, 2013–V-Day’s 15th anniversary. Our local rising, “One Billion Rising Atlanta,” will take place on the steps of the capitol at 10 am. There we plan on supporting the Georgia Women for Change 2013 legislative agenda: End Violence Against Women and Girls. At 12 pm, there will be a flash mob on Peachtree Street Downtown. Think you might want to join?  Join the Facebook group at www.onebillionatlanta.com to find out when rehearsals will be and where the flash mob will be located. You can learn the dance moves by logging in to http://onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/learn-the-steps-to-break-the-chain

In addition to V-Day, the Georgia Tech Women’s Resource center will be rallying against violence as they show their production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on March 29th and March 30th at the Academy of Medicine.  All of the funds raised on these nights will be donated to Tapestri Inc., a local non-profit agency that focuses on preventing sexual and domestic violence and exploitation through advocacy, education, and community organizing.

It is not to late to join the cause! Visit http://www.vday.org to find out how you can get involved and join the fight to eliminate violence against women!

– Jennifer C.

Theater as a Stage for Social Justice

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the seminars I had the distinct pleasure of attending during the 2012 Georgia Tech Women’s Leadership Conference was appropriately named “Theater as a Stage for Social Justice.” This was the last breakout session that I attended, and it was facilitated by Melissa Gerrior, the current Graduate Assistant at the GT Women’s Resource Center. In this seminar, we read excerpts of dramatic monologues with different feminist themes and social undertones.

In the first exercise, everyone was asked to ponder this question: “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” At first, I was startled. All eyes immediately turned to me, and everyone bursted into a rupturing laughter. I was then instructed to pretend if I had an imaginary vagina.

With this question lingering in the conscious part of our minds, we moved on to reading the first excerpt (Eve Ensler’s “My Angry Vagina”). The first dramatic monologue used brash and abrasive language, but there was a meaning to the usage of profanity. It personified a vagina’s feelings and emotions, and “she” vented on her  frustrations with using certain products and not having a recognizable voice, especially when it comes to the overall welfare and well being of “her”.

The second excerpt we read was about a woman battling anorexia nervosa (“Hunger Blog” -Eve Ensler). It’s a taboo, but important topic that women and men need to discuss. I never knew what the mentality of a person suffering from this disease entailed, and I never quite understood the mental anguish and struggle that anybody suffering from anorexia had to battle and deal with on a day to day basis. I’m glad that I have a better understanding, and now I personally feel that I can help anyone battling this disease.

The next excerpt was about a Barbie doll (“Free Barbie” – Eve Ensler). The character telling the story shared how he/she thinks that Barbie is constantly controlled with no voice, no options, no regards, no sympathy. Barbie’s life consists of doing feminine-oriented tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc., and the author wants everyone to know that Barbie does not want to be confined to the domestic role. Barbie wants to expand her horizons. Barbie wants to make a difference. The author even noted that Barbie likes math. As a society, we consciously and unconsciously place children in different gender roles. We expect them to wear a certain attire, to act a certain way, play with toys that aligns with their social identity or gender. For so long the sexual division of labor has evolved to gender roles that are still enforced today. I promised myself that if I had a child, then I would always let me child know that he/she always has the power of choice to be an individual, but most importantly, to be yourself.

Theater really is a stage for social activism and justice. It causes us to ponder our lives, provoke new and insightful thoughts, question standards and tradition, but overall, it inspires and moves us towards action and change.

– Alfonza L.

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