The Sexual Misconduct Advocacy Group (SMAG) at West Chester University is currently looking for new members to join its organization.
SMAG started last semester when the school stopped sending out as many timely warnings, and there was a group of students who continued asking questions about sexual assault on campus. The group was created to raise awareness and give a voice to the student body.
Sabina Sister, one of the SMAG leaders, said, “Out of that started a group that has sought to teach itself about the policies and laws, learn how to communicate the student body voices to the school and be part of the change in ending sexual violence on campus as a student group.”
This group is important because it is the one of the only ones that is making an effort to raise awareness of this issue that is plaguing college campuses.
“We are important because we value the safety and equal treatment of all students on this campus and have a fire within us to make change,” said Chloe Neal, another member of the SMAG leadership board.
The campus has helpful resources to sexual assault survivors, including the Social Equity department, the Women’s Center, Health Center, the Counseling Center, therapy dogs and more.
According to Sister, one in five women, one in 16 men and one in two transgender people experiece sexual violence.
Even if people don’t realize it, rape culture is something that is very prevalent in society, especially on college campuses.
“It exists when we hear about students getting raped in parking garages late at night, when we blame survivors by shaming them for their choices, when we say things like, ‘Oh, I just raped that test!’ That is inexcusable and must end,” said Sister.
SMAG hosted the SlutWalk on Friday, April 8, which was its most successful event. About 40 students marched together through campus to end slut shaming. SMAG is looking to have two SlutWalks next year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
There are weekly meetings every Thursday night in Brandywine Hall at 7 p.m.
While the group is not school-affiliated, it has been met with mostly support from the school. It is here to support the student body and to represent the voices of those students.
The group hopes to grow in size, get more student involvement and overall, to make a difference on campus.
“We hope to see the rate of violence on this campus go down,” said Sister, while Neal added, “I hope to hear a roar from West Chester University that causes our school to become a leader in violence prevention programming and strategy.”
Dana Perkiss is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. Contact her at DP785965@wcupa.edu