September was such a crazy and exciting month for Voices of Hope!! We were able to attend Walk a Mile in her shoes as the keynote speaker and then we were invited to the University of Pitt to speak at an event called the Undy 500: The Race against Sexual Assault.
The Undy 500 is a fun run wear all the participants where undergarments on the outside of their regular clothing to show that it doesn’t matter what you wear sexual assault is not all right. The event began with the run, and then the students gathered in the WPU Patio and lawn where they were able to get pizza, visit with vendors such as campus police and PAAR, and also listen to two speakers, including myself.
While formulating my speech for this event, I was able to coorespond with with Jasmine who sits on the Student Government Board as the Health and Wellness Chair. Through our cooresepondence, I had the opportunity to interview her on this fabulous event and inquire about other events the Student Government organizes.
Voices of Hope: How did you get involved with Student Government, specifically the health and wellness chair?
Jasmine: I have been involved with Student Government Board since Spring 2014 (so about a year and a half now) and I was the first Wellness Chair so this committee has been my work in progress since I was a freshman! After this school year, I will have had 5 semesters with SGB and that still boggles my mind.
Voices of Hope: What kind of events does your organization typically have or organize?
Jasmine: We try to focus on events that relate to bringing the campus together for health issues that directly relate to college students. So our first event we put on last fall was called “Mind Body Peace” day and it was an event to try to bring together all aspects of mental health for students. We had student organizations related to mental health there and programs like the campus Stress Free Zone to support students and show them coping methods for the stress of college. The Undy 500, Race Against Sexual Assault was our second event we have put on so we are hoping to continue these two events in the future.
Voices of Hope: Is this your first year your organizing the Undy 500? If so, do you plan to make it a yearly event?
Jasmine: This is the first year we have put on the Undy 500 and since it was a successful event, especially for the first year, we definitely are going to try to put it on again next year. Although I am not sure what my role with the committee will be next year, but I will definitely still be involved somewhat and continue awesome events like these.
Voices of Hope: What message do you want to convey through this event?
Jasmine: I think the most important thing I want to convey to students is that it is up to us to set the tone of how we address sexual assault. It is up to each student to not tolerate sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual violence, rape and everything associated. It is also up to us to never judge victims or justify acts of sexual assault by what the victim looks like or is wearing. It is never okay and we need to confront those issues head on, together. I think as a whole, Pitt showed what kind of community we want to build and that we are committed to keeping each other safe and creating a respectful environment.
Voices of Hope: Why do you feel sexual violence awareness is important?
Jasmine: I think sexual violence awareness is really important, especially on a college campus, because the first step towards prevention is awareness. I think all too many times, victims don’t even know what happened to them is considered sexual assault and they are too embarrassed or guilty to step forward and get justice. But by educating everyone and making students aware of what is acceptable and what is not, we can create a safer community.
Voices of Hope: Does Pitt have any other events that revolve around educating students about sexual violence, and possibly how to be an advocate?
Jasmine: I don’t know any events around this topic offhand but I know Campus Women’s Organization holds an event every year called “Take Back the Night” and had a great turnout this year!
Voices of Hope would like to commend the Student Government of the University of Pitt for all of their efforts in spreading the word to bring an end to sexual violence. We would also like to thank Jasmine for her time and all of her efforts as well!! Keep up the fabulous job!