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Student Government column

If you happened to notice individuals on campus on Oct. 25 with purple paint on their hands or face, then maybe you were also aware that October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. SAFE CMU, Spark the Movement, Vaasavi Unnava (Student Body President) and Aaron Gutierrez (Student Body Vice President), and CMU Student Senate organized the Paint for a Purpose event. The event aimed to bring awareness to domestic violence in America where 20 people will experience physical abuse in some form per minute — amounting to 10 million men and women per year according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

While statistics are always needed on issues like this in order to understand the magnitude of the problems at hand and to begin to construct plans to reduce these rates, their pure grandeur can take away from the humanity of its victims. For this reason, Jess Klein, coordinator of Gender Program and Sexual Assault Violence Prevention on campus, organized the exhibition titled “It Happens Here.” This exhibit centered around the survivors of sexual assault, detailing the stories of individuals and making sure we don’t forget the facts such as that one in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence in their lifetime. This directly translates to individuals in our communities, dorms, family, and friends. In Klein’s own words, “domestic violence does not discriminate — it can happen to people of all races, genders, social classes, ages, and religions.”

Finally, Srishti Jain, Student Government’s Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention advocate, recently released a video project titled Survivor to Survivor. In this video, survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence anonymously submitted words of hope, advice, and love they would give to other survivors in their communities and beyond. Students all across campus, including members of the Student Body President’s Cabinet and Unnava, came together to share the survivors’ messages. The result was posted online with the hopes that these words would reach those who needed it the most.

It’s always sobering to remember that Carnegie Mellon, which takes form as a home for so many, is currently being investigated for a Title IX violation — meaning, at some point, a student has experienced discrimination after reporting a sexual assault on campus. So again, I must highlight the absolute relevance of all these amazing events and projects occurring on campus. Sexual assault must always be taken seriously, not only because of its indiscriminate nature, but because we as a community must strive to ensure that our members always feel safe, or feel comfortable in expressing their discomfort.

If you have ever felt that these most basic requirements were not being met, please never hesitate to reach out to loved ones, or any of the members of Cabinet, many of whom are in the Survivor’s Support Network. Have any ideas of other Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence (SARVP) events that you would like to see on campus? Please contact Srishti Jain at srishtij@andrew.cmu.edu.