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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students spread positive messages with “You Deserve…” demonstration on UA Mall

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Gabriela Diaz/Arizona Daily Wildcat

In response to another student’s controversial message, Paola Andrea Gonzalez, a pre-pharmacy sophomore, holds her own sign reading “You deserve love” on Tuesday. The Women’s Interests Collaborative organized a demonstration to counter UA student Dean Saxton’s “You deserve rape” sign, giving students an opportunity to spread positivity.

UA student Dean Saxton returned to Heritage Hill on Tuesday with a sign that read “You deserve rape,” only to be met with a large demonstration held by UA students.

As part of an effort by the Women’s Interests Collaborative, several campus groups gathered together to organize an event called “You Deserve…” on Tuesday. Students were provided with free signs that read “You deserve…” and had the chance to write in their own message as to what they felt students truly deserved.

“We want students to know that they deserve a community that is free from sexual violence and free from the threat of sexual violence and free from words that support sexual violence,” said Megan McKendry, a violence prevention specialist with the OASIS Program, a program out of Campus Health Service.

Now that the event is done, the signs will be placed around campus so the UA community can see the positive messages, according to Danielle Pernell, a freshman studying English and an intern with Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower, a program out of the Women’s Resource Center.

Last week, Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, held a sign that read “You deserve rape” while delivering a sermon that declared women on campus should dress modestly in order to avoid rape. Saxton’s message sparked controversy on campus, leading students to file complaints with the Dean of Students Office.

“This [event] is just to show that … the majority of the UA doesn’t believe in this notion that just because of the way you dress or the way you act you deserve assaults or abuse,” said Kelly Ancharski, a sophomore studying political science and French and a F.O.R.C.E. intern. “This is just, you know, anything and everything that you think you deserve — from love and equity to peace and respect.”

Students, staff and faculty joined in , including Brooke Lober, a gender and women’s studies graduate student. Lober also taught a class this semester called Women in Western Culture.

Lober held a sign that read “You deserve an education on a campus where you feel respected” and
said the university needs to do something more to protect students from what she considers an unsafe environment on campus.

“This is classic racism and classic sexism; we have to do something,” Lober said. “Our community as a campus has to do something to create a hospitable environment for all students.”

Before the forum, some administrators said they supported the idea behind it.

“While we are not an official sponsor of the event, we definitely support the organizers’ intentions and actions,” said Kendal Washington White, interim dean of students in an email interview.

Lober added that she is concerned that if young women are subjected to attacks such as those from Saxton, they will not be able to do as well at the UA as young men.

“It’s something that affects everyone,” Lober said. “I’m hoping that this is just the first step and that we use this opportunity to open up a campus dialogue about how everybody here can be respected.”

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