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April 4, 2022 LA GRANDE, Ore. – This April, the Eastern Oregon University campus will be host to both a literal rainbow of stories and a denim-clad demonstration as survivors and advocates make their voices heard.
Privileged Campus Advocate Jessa Suthann, with assistance from student clubs, organized the “Survivors Rock” rock painting and social media campaign and the upcoming Denim Day event on campus as part of national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is all about raising awareness for sexual assault prevention. This year I organized the survivors rock rock-painting project and I’ve been working on it since December. It took a lot of collaboration with EOU students and staff,” Suthann said.
Suthann’s office is in Library 216. Students may drop by without an appointment. Suthann maintains the confidentiality rights equivalent of a medical practitioner and will not report any information without explicit student consent.
“I just want people to have fun. It’s actually kind of therapeutic to just sit there and paint a rock and just chit chat with your friends. So, the social aspect of it, the gathering of people to come together for one purpose and it’s a heavy topic. It’s a fun, gentle way to get people to talk about uncomfortable things,” Suthann said.
Oregon’s advocate privilege law (ORS-40.264) allows advocates that meet statute guidelines to have legal privilege similar to that of a doctor, lawyer or mental health professional. They cannot share the survivor’s information without a written release. Campus-based advocates like Suthann are professional staff trained to support victims of sexual violence in college and university settings. Advocates receive specialty training and offer survivors information, emotional support and assistance finding resources that work best for the survivors’ needs and situation.
“Survivors Rock” is a collaboration between the Psychology Club, ASEOU, Speel-Ya, Sage Club, Residence Life, Art Club, Education Club, Shelter From the Storm and a La Grande High School art class. The idea originated after Suthann discovered a similar rock painting by an unknown advocacy group and chose to replicate it at EOU.
“It was just a small grassroots nonprofit that did it. I don’t know of any other campus that has done a rock painting event for SAAM,” Suthann said.
During winter term, participants researched SAAM, shared personal stories and painted rocks with assorted designs, supportive quotes and SAAM social media hashtags. The rocks will be placed around campus in April. Suthann hopes that students see the rocks as a source of inspiration to spread sexual assault awareness on social media.
“As they find a rock around campus they’ll take a picture of it or with it, post it to their social media platforms, hashtag Sexual Assault Awareness Month, hashtag Shelter From the Storm, hashtag believe survivors or hashtag cancel rape culture,” she said.
ASEOU will also place denim jeans around campus as part of Denim Day on April 27. Students are encouraged to wear denim as a show of solidarity with sexual assault survivors.
“ASEOU is going to collaborate with me on putting up denim jeans on campus,” Suthann said. “Those denim jeans symbolize articles of clothing that sexual assault survivors were wearing when they were assaulted.”
Additional off-campus SAAM events include the “How do I Teach Consent as a Parent?” Virtual Event on April 15 and the March to SAAM on April 16, both hosted by Shelter From the Storm.
Learn more about Shelter from the Storm at unioncountysfs.org. Find more information about SAAM at nsvrc.org/saam.
Written by PR intern Garrett Christensen.
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