#STOPTHISSHEET: Students protest rape culture from JMU’s College GameDay
Students collected sheets and displayed them on the quad yesterday morning
Rape culture is a huge part of society, and was showcased on October 25 in a protest by JMU students who wish to remain anonymous. They titled their protest #STOPTHISSHEET.
I had a chance to sit down with one student involved and ask her about the objective of their project. She said, "The purpose is to make people aware of the rape culture and sexual assault occurring on our campus."
"Making 'jokes' about sexual assault makes it seem less valid when someone comes forward," she said. "It makes people feel less safe on campus to see that people find it humorous or even acceptable. Victims of sexual assault especially don't want to see stuff like these sheets while they are just going about their days."
The idea arose from driving around Harrisonburg and feeling a disgust for the signs that students and residents thought were funny. The protesters mentioned that they were shocked to see such blatant disregard for rape/sexual assault victims.
"We got the idea from just driving around and seeing all the awful signs people were displaying. This is my school and I was shocked to see that someone thought it was okay to put these up. We thought about how we could make these people understand how awful these messages [that] they were supporting were. We thought maybe putting them all together and rolling them out on the quad would make people see how disgusting they are."
Some of these signs were real (donated anonymously after gameday) or recreations of signs the student saw around Harrisonburg, while the last few sheets were her own words concluding the message.
These students also added signs (surrounding the artwork) declaring the protest as a possible "trigger" so as to protect students from reading these messages if they did not want to.
"We just want to make people think about their actions as well as help to stop sexual assault on campus. We know that's a big goal but if anyone just sees this, thinks about their actions and how they might be promoting sexual assault, and tries to change, that's all we can really ask for. Also get a sense of humor because yours sucks."
Unfortunately, the students did not acquire a permit before displaying their protest and were forced to take it down, but not before their point was made.
When questioned about the overall satisfaction with their installation, one spokesperson said, "We are pretty happy with it. We expected it to last five minutes, so staying out there an hour is pretty awesome."
"We are just disappointed at JMU's attempt to quickly get rid of it and sweep it under the rug like they do with most sexual assault cases on campus," she said.
She went on to say, "JMU helps perpetuate this notion of making people come forward feel less valid. It sucks. Our advice to others is to fight back. Don't let these people become the norm. Make them feel bad for being a shitty human being."
"Also don't let corporations like JMU bully you into submission, or use their power to make you feel bad for using your first amendment right. Nothing gets done by sitting around. We are proud to stand up and will stand with you. Perpetuating rape culture needs to be shamed and stopped. Dukes Step Up. #STOPTHISSHEET," she said.
This goes to show that if you see something you don't like or agree with, you have the power to advocate for change. In this case, change the perception of rape culture.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, call the Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673.