Students make a statement on Denim Day

Ellie Magnuson, Multimedia Contributor

Students at Oregon State University made a statement against sexual assault by wearing denim on Wednesday, April 26. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and activities around campus are in action to enforce the importance of consent.

The Student Experience Center embraced the meaning behind the denim outfits and informed students of the resources available for preventing sexual assault and helping survivors. Representatives from the Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center made an appearance in an effort to educate students about sexual violence on college campuses.

“Denim Day is a great way to show support for survivors of sexual assault,” said Amanda Stevens, an advocate for SARC. “We can connect students with resources on counseling and healing such as going to CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services). We can also help students through the reporting process if they choose to do so.”

Senior Rebecca Holland, a digital communications major, as well as a Chi Omega sorority member, recognizes the importance of consent. Chi Omega is partnered with the Survivor Advocacy Center on campus.

“As sorority women, it is important to know and acknowledge the support the community and the campus offers for students,” Holland said. “We are all women; we have all, if not experienced sexual assault, know someone who has been assaulted.”

Denim Day is an international symbol of protest, however, according to first-year business major Ashley Henry, many of her friends were unaware of the meaning behind the day and had never heard of it before.

“Lots of people don’t know where to go, and this is a great day to help people understand that resources are available. Although I have never had a personal experience with sexual assault, I was eager to participate in helping survivors,” Henry said.

Denim Day grew out of a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision which overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans.

The situation began when an 18-year-old woman was picked up by her 45-year-old, married driving instructor to begin her first lesson. The woman was instructed to drive to an isolated road. Once in the secluded area, the driving instructor yanked the 18-year-old out of the car, wrestled her halfway out of her denim jeans and proceeded to brutally rape her. He then threatened her with death if she told anyone about what had transpired, according to the Denim Day website.

Disregarding the threat, the woman told her parents; they pressed charges and the perpetrator was arrested, convicted of rape and then sentenced to jail. He appealed the sentence and within days the sentence was overturned, dismissed and he was released because, apparently, “the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex,” as stated by the Chief Judge.

Women around the world were enraged by the verdict and immediately protested by wearing jeans to work, while motivating the California Senate and Assembly to follow suit and wear jeans as well, according to the Denim Day international website.

“Listen, Believe and Support is our motto and this is something that we live by.  If someone is experiencing something like this, I hope that they utilize the resources provided because there are so many supportive places to go on this campus.” Stevens said.

For those seeking a supportive environment, CAPS is open Monday through Friday located on the fifth floor in Snell Hall.