SAASA provides a safe space for students

It was late and I had just left another boring Guilfordian meeting. My face was lined with misery because I was going back to Bryan to attack the mountain of homework that I was dreading, when I noticed a small commotion in the Hut. After snooping around a bit, I noticed that there was pizza in there and I wasn’t about to go away without a slice. “I’ll just grab a quick slice and sneak out,” I thought.

I slunk into the hut where these kind-faced people were speaking softly to each other. “Perfect,” I thought, “they won’t know I was here.” So I sat down, and grabbed a slice, waiting for the best time to slip out, but before that, I noticed droves of people crowding into the hut. “They must be here for the pizza too,” I thought.

But I was wrong.

Most of them didn’t even grab a slice. They just sat in the soft wooden chairs in the hut, waiting expectantly.  Intrigued, I waited too, quietly munching on my free pizza. There must have been thirty people who showed up to this one place and it was all for a club called SAASA, which stands for Sexual Assault Awareness Support and Advocacy.

We started in a friendly enough way with simple introductions. Then the leaders of the club started to talk about achievements accomplished last year.

Among the accomplishments named were a successful forum on Jon Hatch and aid in the creation of a monthly meeting for victims of sexual abuse with an expert  counselor.

Then people began to speak their views on sexual abuse. Passion was burning throughout the room as person after person named plans for the club — ideas like forums on sexual abuse rates for college kids and radio shows dedicated to educating others on sexual abuse. Others discussed the tragedy of rape and how so many cases go unreported. They explained how rapists take the humanity of their victims and leave them with their lives shattered.

There was anger in the room that night, as well as a sense that this was an important place to be on campus.

The emotions at this meeting sparked something in me that wasn’t really present before. I knew of cases of sexual abuse cases, but they took up little space in my brain. I was much more concerned with my own problems. As the meeting went on, my mind began to find sympathy as well as anger with and for the victims that my peers were talking about.

I wanted to know a little more about the club so I talked to the co-president, junior Cappa Cheatham. “Our biggest goals are to spread awareness about a bill in North Carolina that protects the rapists if they say they did not rape someone,” said Cheatham. “We want Guilford to officially condemn this bill and come out in favor of the victims.”

The interview went well and I left with the following thoughts circling my mind.

You know, it is likely that I am a narcissist. I care little for outside things that don’t directly affect my life. I never really had any idea that one meeting at a club could so profoundly affect me.  But, this place, that night, was different. For one hour, I was just like all of those kind-faced kids in that room filled with passion about the plight of the victimized and ready to do something, anything to stop it.