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‘Shine a Light on Sexual Violence’ campaign at University of York

A week of workshop and events in solidarity for Sexual Violence organised by GSA and YUSU

York Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and University of York Student Union (YUSU) have come together to organise the student-led campaign "Shine A Light" on Sexual Violence with the aim to raise awareness of sexual violence by encouraging us to challenge inappropriate behaviour whilst promoting the support that is available to York students if they have been affected by sexual violence.

#shinealightyork will be running a range of events and workshops during National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week which will take place between 4th – 9th of February 2019 at the University of York.

The aim of the workshop sessions is to sensitively discuss the vulnerabilities in relation to sexual violence, whilst also showing solidarity for the campaign. One of the leading organisers Amy Bullard, GSA VP Well-being officer, commented on the importance of the campaign in showing students that "We are here, we will listen and we will believe you.'"

The week of workshops, talks and discussions are kicked off on Monday 4th February with the #lightupthenight March starting at Greg’s Place at 6pm where anyone can attend the solidarity March around Heslington West and East, before concluding at Heslington Hall at 7:30pm where Academic Registrar Dr. Wayne Campbell will greet students for discussion and light refreshments. Before the march there will also be a poster and banner making workshop taking place at YorSpace between 3-5:45pm.

Friday night entails a fun pub quiz starting at 8:30pm at Courtyard hosted by Women’s Rugby in aid of Yorkshire’s largest specialist charity in supporting people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence: Independent Domestic Abuse Services, or commonly known as IDAS.

To close the week on Saturday 9th February, from 12pm onwards, there will be an afternoon of workshops, a small fayre where various external organisations will showcase the support available to York students before a mini-panel discussion.

GSA and YUSU have used the term "shine a light on intersectionality" as they want to explore how sexual violence impacts not only women but also men and other marginalised communities. Tickets are available via Eventbrite on the Facebook event page.

Throughout the week there will also be a "tree of hope" placed in the library foyer where students and staff are encouraged to write on a leaf what respect means to them, which will then be displayed at the Saturday events.

YUSU Community and Well-being officer Steph Hayle said that the relevance to an event like this to York University is to support students by creating a culture of zero-tolerance to violence. Steph hopes that "the campaign can drive the university to implement an anonymous reporting system, improving students' and staff's experience of reporting any incidents," as she believes that "if we make enough noise by shining a light, we will make a change."

More information can be found on the Shine a Light on Sexual Violence Facebook page which you can find here.

Featured image credit: DS Pugh