Class fights sexual assault

According to the nonprofit organization One in Four, about a fourth of college women have survived rape or attempted rape.

For students like senior Vanity Adams, Tuesday’s Canes Consent helps raise awareness about assault and discusses many facts about sexual assault among college women. Tuesday will mark the fourth time that professor Katharine Westaway and her Women’s and Gender Studies class have organized the event.

Canes Consent is the crux of the course’s curriculum. Westaway says she first got the idea to add Canes Consent to her class curriculum in December 2013 when two separate students came to tell her about their experiences with sexual assault on the same day.

Westaway says she was forced to reevaluate the focus of the class and completely change the syllabus mere weeks from the end of the semester.

“I was horrified. I was just broken to hear their stories,” she said. “I went to my director that night and said, ‘I’m probably going to be doing something about this.’”

The students in the class are divided into teams and each given a different responsibly. In the days leading up to the event, the students sat in the classroom arranging phone calls, putting together flyers and pamphlets and going over the budget, all in an effort to prepare the event.

However, students say Canes Consent is not just a class assignment.

“[Sexual assault is] a huge issue that is not always on the spotlight,” junior Adina Kaplan said. “It needs to be brought to everyone’s attention.”

Westaway says that this event has been successful in the past and she has high hopes for this semester’s event.

“We saw hundreds of people come through and listen to our speakers,” she said. “We’re really good at bringing people together.”

Canes Consent will be held from 12-3 p.m. Tuesday on the Rock and will feature music, free food, giveaways and TED Talks-styled speeches on the subject of campus sexual assault. There will also be an event called the Survivor Stand-Up, where survivors of sexual assault will link arms and stand together as a symbol of their continued strength and perseverance.