Stand Against Silence, a FCPS based student organization with representation in six schools, aims to spread awareness of sexual assault on college campuses. Their mission, as stated on the SAS website, is to keep the conversation going.
One in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, ninety-seven percent of rapists will not be jailed, and sixty-six percent of rape is committed by a friend or acquaintance. This past month, the University of Virginia was littered with allegations of rape cases on campus. Although the UVA report was later rebuked, several women came out as a consequence. Campus rape is still a big problem across the country. According to Crisis Connection Incorporated, sixty percent of male college students have raped someone or have been excessively violent towards a female. With the recent sexual assault scandals on college campuses, Khanna decided that she wanted to start a prevention program and lead a media campaign. Khanna said that she “realized that [rape on campus] was, and is, a problem that needs to be fixed.”
After talking to rape victims in her community and reading articles and stories online, she noticed that rapists and their peers often blamed their victims. Khanna “figured that this attitude of victim blaming and the attitude of ‘well, what was she wearing’ had to have come from somewhere, and taught by someone.”
SAS is in place to fix this common misconception, and to re-teach what many truly believe. It also exists to create consciousness about the issue.
The organization has a a very far reaching social media campaign, and is active across the county. There are four total GCM student representatives, including juniors Samantha Van Heest and Sara Zhu. Van Heest and Zhu believe that organizations like SAS and prevention programs that create awareness of rape on campuses and rape education are critical for all students, particularly those in high school. Van Heest has always had a strong passion for women’s rights and “really just wants to make a difference because there is just too much lack of understanding and education–and this education should be starting in high school.”
Similarly Zhu’s passion is to “help people realize the importance and severity that rape can cause on victims and their families and friends.”
SAS is a relatively new organization, starting only about a a couple months ago. It already has a very large volunteer student staff, a adult advisory board, and is selling t-shirts and leading small campaigns based around spreading the word to create awareness and teach the importance of consent. Khanna also plans on involving the the counselors and lead seminars that are based around the rape culture in college, specifically for the graduating class. She also plans on meeting with some FCPS school board members to talk to them about putting together a mandatory program within the county’s schools that addresses the issue for next year.
This is a very difficult discussion to have, but is one that is uniting FCPS students of different schools and backgrounds with a common goal and the desire to change.