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SGA wraps up first semester of a successful 'Stamp Out Aggression' campaign

Central Michigan University Student Government Association's Senate Leader Caroline Murray explains a proposed legislation change in the Bovee University Center Auditorium March 11.

Student Government Association's “Stamp Out Aggression” campaign has been a semester-long effort spearheaded by Senate Leader Caroline Murray and Senator Hannah Benemann, in partnership with Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates Director Brooke Oliver-Hempenstall.

The campaign was first mobilized in response to a rumor that SAPA was losing its funding. Although the rumor turned out to be false, Stamp Out Aggression was created to combat sexual aggression on campus, raise awareness and funds for resources such as SAPA.

SGA partnered with Program Board to fund SAPA’s midnight skate in November, and the Stamp Out Aggression campaign was launched when former graduate student Rachel Willson, a sexual assault survivor, shared her story at SGA's Nov. 12, 2018 meeting.

As part of the campaign, SGA held a month-long social media campaign that involved sharing statistics and resources throughout the month of December. Murray said that the social media campaign gained some traction and sparked conversation.

“(The campaign) was kind of an indirect, out-of-the-spotlight way of getting more sensitive resources to students in a way that wasn’t like us putting out fireworks and (yelling), ‘Hey! Here’s SAPA!’” Murray said.

SGA also held two workshops during the spring semester to promote resources. 

The first focused on preventing bystander behavior and educated attendees on how to respond in situations of sexual assault. The second took place on March 28 and involved education on domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Both workshops included SAPAs and OCRIE representatives to provide attendees with educated perspectives.

“SAPA and Sexual Aggression Services appreciates the enthusiasm and passion SGA students put into this campaign,” Oliver-Hempenstall said. “This was a first-time partnership for our groups, and we discovered many opportunities where we can continue to improve, collaborate and support one another in the future.”

Although attendance was low at both workshops, SGA Vice President Lyndi Rose said hosting them is a step in the right direction, even if they only initially target people who already care and are informed on the subject.

“I know that the workshops didn’t get good attendance, but the meaning, impact and intentionality in having those was there,” Rose said. “And I will do that again. If six people go, six people go – that's six people who had the conversation versus six who didn’t.”

The final part of the “Stamp Out Aggression” campaign involved tabling around campus and collecting signatures for the pledge against aggression in February. The purpose of the pledge was to engage with the student body, address rape culture, promote education on sexual aggression, spread resources and target bystander behavior.

“There’s nothing we can do other than educate each other,” Rose said. “When you say that ‘a pledge is not going to stop a rapist,' it might stop someone from saying something that’s triggering or (prevent) an actual (bystander behavior) scenario at a party.” 

The pledge project was extended when SGA Senator Joshua Moody took the pledge to Greek Life. During Greek Week, Moody tabled and handed out resource cards at Greek events.

“I felt like (taking the pledge to Greek Life) was important because they’re a specific part of the student demographic that doesn't get reached by SGA and could benefit from the pledge,” Moody said.

Within the first month of tabling, the original goal of 500 signatures was surpassed. After its extension to Greek Week, the pledge reached nearly 800 signatures.

Murray reflected that the campaign grew into something more than she initially expected as numerous campus organizations such as the Office of Student Success have jumped on board.

As for the effectiveness of the campaign, everyone involved has expressed enthusiasm, while acknowledging the campaign’s limitations.

“The campaign helped an important message reach students, and perhaps encouraged some new courageous participation and dialogue,” Oliver-Hempenstall said. “I consider that a step in the right direction for our campus. I am not sure how SGA plans to measure the campaign’s effectiveness, but I believe that any time we engage students in supporting survivors and creating an informed and engaged environment, that is success.”

Even though Murray is graduating this semester, Rose and SGA President Jake Hendricks, as well as other SGA Senators, don’t intend to let the campaign die.

“I can see one of the senators taking it on again next year, but if they find a different way to do it and support the mission, I’m not going to be mad,” Murray said. “I just want people to know about SAPA, OCRIE and feel safe and supported on campus.”