After a “Vox Populi” blog post last month ranked the most offensive Tombs Trivia team names, several Georgetown women’s groups have joined forces to raise awareness of campus issues they say the teams trivialized.
Creators of the I Am Jane Hoya Campaign for Change said they aim to raise awareness of sexual assault and the marginalization of women and the LGBTQ community.
“A lot of us forget that it’s a real problem,” said Clare Flanagan (COL’11), one of the founders of the campaign. “You might make jokes and not realize that you are hurting people around you.”
The blog chose the names “No means yes, and yes means anal” and “Number of stairs I kicked my girlfriend down when she told me she was pregnant” as the most offensive. Runners up included jokes about women’s basketball and homosexuals.
The post sparked a long discussion on the blog, and it has received 93 comments to date. Some of the comments were written by individuals who said they found the names more humorous than offensive.
“The comments especially were really upsetting,” Flanagan said, adding that her friends who were victims of sexual assault or members of the LGBTQ community were particularly hurt.
As a result, she reached out to Georgetown’s Take Back the Night and the United Feminists to coordinate the campaign, which has since sponsored a Facebook event intended to raise awareness. The event currently has more than 300 students attending.
The group also tabled last Friday for Denim Day, a day designated to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim had been wearing jeans.
The group eventually hopes to hang posters around campus to spread the message.
“I think any visible campaign that addresses gender-based violence and other forms of harassment on campus are critical in creating a safe environment for every [student],” Laura Kovach, director of the university’s Women’s Center, wrote in an email.
“The Georgetown community needs to know that sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and other forms of gender-based violence happen on the Hilltop,” she added.
At Georgetown, between five and 10 incidents of forced sex are reported every year. Associate Director of the Department of Public Safety Joseph Smith told The Hoya earlier this year that these represent only a small fraction of the total assaults that actually occur.
Flanagan said the complacency they hope to eliminate is common across many college campuses.
The “No means yes, and yes means anal” slogan adopted by one of the trivia teams was chanted by a Yale fraternity on their campus last October. The incident was one of many that led to a recently announced investigation of Yale’s policies in dealing with sexual assault and harassment, the Yale Herald reported.
“As Yale has seen, joking about sexual violence is not harmless,” Take Back the Night co-chairwoman Danielle LoVallo (SFS ’11) said.
LoVallo and Flanagan said that the I Am Jane Hoya campaign is a chance for students to express their opinions about a culture at Georgetown that demeans the campus as a whole.
“Humor says so much about a culture and is so specific to a culture,” Flanagan said. “In joking about sexual assault, we accept sexual assault as a natural part of our culture that isn’t going to change.”