SBU's Undergraduate Social Welfare Alliance: Students Against Sexual Assault

Name: Casey Pinner (SASA Co-Chair) 

Year: Senior

Major: Social Work

Hometown: Levittown, NY


Name: Toni Ann Petovello (SASA Co-Chair) 

Year: Senior

Major: Social Work

Hometown: Queens, NY


Can you tell us about Students Against Sexual Assault and its mission?

Casey and Toni: "Our organization is a committee of the Undergraduate Social Welfare Alliance. It was developed last year, by founders Suzanne Loevner and Elizabeth Cohen, as students who were part of the club felt the need to focus their concerns and efforts on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and beyond. At first, it was known as the Sexual Assault Committee but since has evolved to be known as Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA). It is the mission of our committee to promote safety, dignity and accountability in university culture through educating, advocating for, and ascertaining transparency of university policies regarding sexual assault. As a student group comprised primarily of developing social work professionals we seek to engage in advocacy and education in regards to the social justice issue of sexual assault and to open up constructive discussions in a topic area that most seem to avoid."

What events did you host during this past spring semester?

Casey and Toni: "We recently had a very successful event at the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It was a documentary screening of the Netflix Original Audrie & Daisy, which revolves around the stories and experiences of young women who experienced sexual assault in their high school years. The documentary contains powerful imagery in terms of the human experience in regards to sexual assault and the culture of victim-blaming that has been perpetuated in our society. Following the screening, there was a discussion hosted by four people from the documentary: Daisy Coleman, Charlie Coleman, Jada Smith and Ella Fairon. We not only connected students to on-campus resources but offered them the opportunity to network with a developing, nation-wide non-profit, SafeBAE." 

SASA with the guest speakers from SafeBae

What do you see for the club in the coming years?

Casey and Toni: "In the coming years we hope to continue to develop a wider presence on campus (particularly on west campus since we are a group comprised primarily of east-campus students).  We hope to engage in more hand-to-hand outreach with students in order to promote safety and awareness. In addition, we have collaborated with the Dean of Students for their “Know Before You Go” outreach initiative. This is a relationship we hope to foster and grow from. Unfortunately, both of us are graduating seniors so we are working to find students to fulfill the roles we will leave behind. This is an important message to keep spreading and an important conversation to keep hosting."

What does your organization do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Casey and Toni: "This year for SAAM our primary event was the Audrie & Daisy screening. Last year we hosted a silent rally where we held signs with statistics and thought-provoking statements on sexual assault.  This was intended to raise awareness and spark discussion in a way that met students where they were at on the topic of sexual assault. We also participate in CPO's Take Back the Night annually and hope to take on a larger role in the planning and development of this event."

What has ben your most successful event on campus to help Stony Brook students?

Casey and Toni: "Audrie & Daisy has been by far our most successful event. Last year we also hosted a screening of the Hunting Ground followed by a discussion regarding on-campus resources and Title IX. This was also a successful way to engage people in the discussion of sexual assault and directly link students to on-campus assistance in a comfortable way. Both of these events have helped us to establish a presence on west campus, to grow as a student-run group, to connect and network with other student-run groups and to carry out our mission and values."  

SASA meets every other week on Monday from 1-2pm in room 154 of the Health Sciences Center. They are primarily a group of social work students; however, they value and encourage all students to join them in their discussion of sexual assault.

“We welcome any and all ideas that will allow us to continue and preserve our mission and to address a social justice issue that affects our community and our world deeply.”