“University” and “rape” are two words that are almost interchangeable within the context of a college campus. With the historic creation and perpetuation of rape culture–rape/sexual assault alone has haunted the concept of college experience and has ultimately been unavoidable in conversation. While many colleges/universities may aim to stay clear of the controversy of the topic, Clark Atlanta University decided to use its student representatives and campus chartered organizations to present their viewpoint, this past month.
This presentation was done through an interactive event named “Believe Black Women **Men & People”. The event was hosted in collaboration of Miss Clark Atlanta University, Royale Greene and Planned Parenthood Generation Action: CAU.
Miss Clark Atlanta University serves as the physical embodiment of the institution. Herself and her royal court aim to represent CAU in the most pristine manner. Correspondingly, the court works to be a collective of women who are not only pageant queens, but sisters to the campus, who connect with the student body, and act on their concerns, wants, and needs.
Noting this, the collaboration of Miss Clark Atlanta University and Planned Parenthood sparked interest and confusion amongst the campus. This is so due to the fact that CAU is a private, Baptist campus, with a strong emphasis on religious values. Therefore, understanding the battle between Planned Parenthood and Christian groups (Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life) is one to especially observe, as it serves as the foundation of the controversy of Planned Parenthood Generation Action being an active organization on campus.
Planned Parenthood Generation Action: CAU is one of the many, college campus chapters, nationwide. The organization was chartered on Clark’s campus less than a year ago by current President Belinda Freeman. Freeman, being a transfer student, noticed huge adversity in the access to comprehensive sexual education, and knowledge on reproductive justice rights at Clark, in comparison to the Prodimentaly White Institution she previously attended. The organization is founded on providing students access to this information and assisting them in supporting social justice acts around the community.
Taking into account the foundation of both of these organizations, while it is a surprising collaboration, principally, it is clear to see why they joined together in aims to create conscious conversation on their campus community.
The event was held in an intimate setting, with chairs centered in a circle centered toward the speakers, to provide full attention to the topics at hand. The intentions of the demonstration were to:
Create Space For Productive Discussion
Learn About How to Combat Rape Culture
Set Personal, Community, & Campus Goals
As an attendee of the event, it was admirable to see the transparency provided on a topic that is not only sensitive but confusing to most. Hosted primarily by President Freeman and Miss Clark Atlanta University, along with the help of guest speakers, the event smoothly elaborated on the entities of rape culture and how to work against them.
With the help of a very active audience, a talkback format was initiated. Thus, allowing students and faculty to speak on the importance of dismantling societal standards to increase campus safety.
Thanks to the safe space created in just two hours, victims and survivors were able to further elaborate on the importance of taking these steps of improvement. Clark Atlanta’s openness to the event alone displays a huge step in the right direction to implementing open measures within being proactive as a campus.
While providing a space for communication and understanding, CAU has shown that their stance on the measure is clear, no means no and they will act in due diligence to protect both the women and men who inhabit their campus.