A student group at the University of Cincinnati is pushing for the university to provide more resources and support for survivors of sexual assault.
Students for Survivors’ primary objectives are to educate the UC community about the nature of sexual assault and consent, and to support individual survivors, regardless of the degree of the assault of how recently it occurred.
Students for Survivors strives to be available on campus to support survivors, especially because there are no safe spaces on campus that are doing that right now, according to Grace Cunningham, a third-year sociology student.
The group asserts that the university is less concerned with providing support for survivors and more concerned with branding UC as an institution that is already safe.
“We want to have a group of students that are supporting survivors in a way that’s survivor-focused,” said Cunningham. “Because often times, survivors are silenced.”
As of now, the group argues that UC does not put survivors at the forefront, but instead perpetuates the idea that sexual assault is rare on campus. In turn, the university does not have a group that uplifts survivor voices, according to Cunningham.
Since the group’s inception in August, they have worked to gain visibility on campus in order to increase awareness about the frequency of assault on campus.
However, since the group is not UC affiliated, they have encountered challenges getting adequate space for events, according to Cunningham.
The group is currently planning their next event, a vigil, to be held on Nov. 20, which will take place off-campus.
The group’s last vigil included an offering of supportive messages for survivors as well as stories from survivors themselves. They also provided resources such as UC’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Women Helping Women, a partner of UC’s Title IX office as of Aug. 17, that works to extend resources to survivors of assault, according to UC’s website.
Although the partnership of Women Helping Women and UC’s Title IX Office is considered a success, the group maintains that the university does not provide adequate resources to survivors of assault, according to Cunningham. They are currently seeking support from UC faculty and staff as well as increased student participation and awareness.
“[Students for Survivors] amplifies everyone’s voices who don’t normally get heard. The students involved are true activists,” said Molly Bernfeld, a fourth-year communications and electronic media student.
The group plans to use the power of social media to directly engage with students and further their mission of educating the UC community about sexual assault on campus.
Recently, they released a video featuring a number of students on UC’s campus speaking to the need for a group like Students for Survivors. The video can be found on the group’s website or via their Facebook page.
Currently, the main objective for Students of Survivors is becoming a group that is going to push UC to change and to hold them accountable for their lack of genuine support for survivors, said Cunningham.