After a full day of activity, the Centennial Student Union emptied students, faculty, and stress out onto the streets, leaving it a quiet shell. However, even after darkness fell, one group of students from various departments remained. Their impetus was the flush of reported assaults that happened on university grounds in early September. The students came searching for ways they could heal the issues happening around campus and make it a safer and more supportive place.
From this initial meeting, one core group of students took discussion one step further and formed the Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR), a brand new coalition on campus.
Their mission is to provide support for survivors of sexual violence and to direct individuals to resources available within the community.
“Ending rape culture and ending sexual violence are two goals that aren’t specific to MNSU or the Mankato community, but they are ultimately tied to our activism because [the SCAR leadership] comes from a feminist background,” said Alissa Shape, director and co-founder of SCAR.
The Title IX policy defines sexual violence as “an intolerable intrusion into the most personal and private rights of an individual.” These intrusions include, but are not limited to, stalking, assault, and relationship violence. Rape culture is a term coined by feminists, and it refers to a culture which normalizes sexual violence, whether consciously or unconsciously. Author Emilie Buchwald, who wrote Transforming a Rape Culture (1994), describes rape culture as being “a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.”
SCAR has broad, overarching goals, but they are focusing in on their own community as a starting point.
“As activists, we would like to stimulate change on campus and in the community through a variety of projects,” said Shape.
SCAR has already made appearances around campus, in the Bullpen, Meyers Field House, and at the Mavericks game on September 24 with supportive signs. On September 26, students Sabrina Mercedes and Grace Doyle encouraged their passing peers to stop and have their photo taken with one of the signs. By doing this, students acknowledged the fact that sexual assaults are an issue and expressed their own support of victims in a simple way.
In addition to raising awareness, SCAR members are solidifying their base of loyal members to create a strong foundation for the coalition. They’re interested in students who have unique perspectives and passion to end rape culture. SCAR members encourage interested students, faculty, and community members to connect with them through Facebook, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.