There is no such outfit that quite screams, “STOP,” like a Canadian tuxedo does.
And that is exactly what happened yesterday, April 25th, on the campus of Springfield College as well as many institutions across the nation.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and within the last week of the month, ‘Denim Day’ is celebrated. Across all campuses, institutions and high schools, students and faculty wear Denim in support of SAAPM.
Denim Day is an international campaign that was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices of the court felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her attacker, and thus the jeans implied consent.
The day following the ruling, the women of the Italian Parliament silently rebelled and came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, Denim Day has served as an awareness campaign to challenge attitudes towards sexual assault.
“That is how [SAAPM] was born and it’s really quite organic,” Title IX Coordinator Mary Simeoli said.
Within her first two months, Mary Simeoli, the new Title IX Coordinator at Springfield College, brought back the international campaign, Denim Day, to Alden Street after a several year hiatus of not participating as an institution.
“This is a revival of Denim Day at Springfield College,” she said.
Denim Day is sponsored by a third party group called Peace Over Violence, a group who is set out to educate on a community level about violence and sexual violence. Peace Over Violence is a nonprofit 501c3, multicultural, community based and volunteer centered organization dedicated to a building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.
The organizations manifesto is to bring awareness to the fact that violence against women is the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world. They continue in explaining that for over three decades, women’s advocacy groups around the world have been working to draw attention to the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of women and to stress the need for action.
Denim Day is a campaign adopted by the organization to encourage awareness of just that.
“It’s a greater dialogue about sexual violence and it’s also about consent,” Simeoli said. “The more significant dialogue of Springfield College has to be about community standards, and setting expectations. How you treat others and the respect you are demanding from others and for yourself. It has to be a cultural shift from the inside out.”
Simeoli believes that we, Springfield College, cannot just be talking about sexual assault on Denim Day, or simply just in April. It needs to be an ongoing conversation about awareness and consent.
“Consent is everything,” she said.