By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
It’s On Us BU, Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) and The Women’s Coalition Project partnered to put on an interactive art exhibit for National Denim Day on Wednesday.
The exhibit was in the Bill Daniel Student Center Den and consisted of pieces of denim on display, and students were encouraged to write uplifting and encouraging messages on the jeans.
National Denim Day is a campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month intended to raise awareness of sexual assault, dispel myths surrounding victim blaming and show solidarity with survivors. According to the campaign’s website, it began after a 1999 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in which a rape conviction was overturned because the victim had been wearing tight jeans, as the justices believed she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans and thus implied consent.
Rockwall junior and It’s On Us BU president Kasandra Albarran said Denim Day encourages people to wear jeans in order to support survivors of sexual assault. Albarran also said that survivors shouldn’t be blamed for being sexually assaulted and that it is important to believe survivors.
“A day like [Denim Day], it’s just really important,” Albarran said. “It created a whole wave of people wearing denim into work. The entire day is a day to support survivors and also amplify the voices of survivors and protest the myth — this whole precedent that a survivor is to blame for their sexual assault.”
Messages on the jeans consisted of phrases like “Love shouldn’t hurt,” “You are not alone” and “You are loved.” Ponotoc, Miss., sophomore and It’s On Us BU co-president Diana Gillespie said It’s On Us BU wanted to put up the exhibit in order to have an uplifting event and to bring awareness to both Denim Day and sexual assault on college campuses.
“Specifically at Baylor, nobody wants to talk about this,” Gillespie said. “You have to talk about it. You have got to think how many people are affected by this and have something that you have to look at or something that represents a much deeper conversation.”
Houston sophomore and AXO member Olivia Villanueva said she feels Denim Day and the art exhibit are important to dispel the myth that sexual assault happens depending on what the victim is wearing. She said AXO partnering with It’s On Us BU for the exhibit helps get their message out.
“Our philanthropy for AXO is domestic violence awareness,” Villanueva said. “A lot of sexual assault happens in relationships, which people don’t really think about. They don’t recognize that it actually happens. Collaborating with them helps get the message out there that these things happen.”
Albarran said It’s On Us BU was excited to partner with AXO for the exhibit.
“AXO reached out to us, and we really wanted to do a Denim Day exhibit,” Albarran said. “We were really excited that AXO had similar interests. With their large platform, it’s really exciting for a small organization to partner with them and just unite on a really important cause.”