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Student Movement to End Campus Sexual Assault

(Angie Epifano)

Who says young women can’t change the way things are? On April 17th, Angie Epifano, 21 years old and already a national leader in the student movement to end campus sexual assault, visited ODU as our featured guest for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Ms. Epifano met with student activists and administrators throughout the day to deliver two messages:

1)  The way a university responds to students who experience sexual assault matters both for the student and the school.

2) Students have the power to help end sexual violence on campus.

(Dickinson College student demonstration)

Ms. Epifano offered the story of her rape and the Amherst College response as a case study.  She also shared how refusing to be silent about her assault has sparked a nationwide initiative to end the scourge of sexual violence on campus once and for all.

In the spring of 2012, Ms. Epifano published her experience in the Amherst college newspaper, describing what happened to her and the terrifying response she received from her college. The story racked up more than one million on-line views and has helped prompt a national student movement to end sexual violence on campus. Since her withdrawal from Amherst, Ms. Epifano has worked to reform higher education policy and practice serving as a consultant to the public policy group Futures without Violence and the White House Task force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. She would be graduating next month, but instead she is giving interviews and traveling from campus to campus to end the epidemic of violence that changed her life and resulted in her withdrawal from school.

She was interviewed last Sunday on NPR which you can listen to here: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/299521814/students-stories-of-sexual-assault-puts-schools-to-blame-too  Give it a listen and promise yourself you will be as brave as this young women when you get the chance to make a difference.

While visiting with our faculty and staff at ODU, she ended each meeting with examples of students making positive changes on their campuses such as these male allies of Williams College pictured below who organize flash mobs at parties.  They descend upon the festivities wearing these shirts, dance consensually with people, and then head out to the next shindig. Now that’s creative social change in action.


(Williams College students partying with consent)

About the Author: Wendi White is the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator at the ODU Women’s Center