Students wear jeans to commemorate Denim Day, promote sexual assault awareness

The RSVP Center worked with True North and the MSA/GPC Craft Studio for the event.

Denim's a timeless fashion staple. But Thursday, it was also a social statement. MU’s Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center sponsored Denim Day as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Denim Day is an international event that was sparked by a 1992 sexual assault in Italy. A teenage girl was raped by her driving instructor. She filed a case against her accused attacker and won, but it was appealed and the Italian High Court overturned the verdict.

The defense was that her jeans were too tight for the assaulter to remove by himself, and she must have helped him. Therefore the act was consensual.

Men and women around the world including members of the Italian Parliament and the Italian Court wore jeans to protest the overturned verdict.

“Denim Day is about letting people know about one particular case of sexual assault in order to illustrate the point that we need to support and believe survivors,” said Alyssa Rogers, graduate assistant and co-coordinator of the RSVP center. “We need to put our energy, our resources and our time into providing safe spaces and providing and encouraging people to intervene to prevent violence from happening so we don’t have to have events like this to commemorate something awful that happened in order to get people to care about the issue.”

Rogers said one in four women will be sexually assaulted during their college years.

“In general on college campuses, sexual assault rates are a little bit higher because you do have a lot of alcohol present,” Rogers said. “Alcohol is the number one predatory drug and that’s a huge part of what it is. It’s something that Mizzou chooses to be aware of and tries to do something about it.”

The RSVP center was joined at this event by the Missouri Students Association/Graduate Professional Council Craft Studio and True North. The Craft Studio provided an activity where students could create prints of the Denim Day logo onto denim patches. True North is a shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence that offers education and emergency shelter among other services.

RSVP Center graduate assistant Holly Hanover said students have the ability to help prevent violence at all times. In addition to this event, students can participate in groups such as Stronger Together Against Relationship and Sexual Violence and Men Against Relationship and Sexual Violence.

Graduate student Abby Rolbiecki said these events help increase awareness.

“It’s a tangible thing to associate with awareness,” Rolbiecki said.

Rogers said that it’s important for all people to stand up against sexual violence when they see it.

“This is an issue that people should care about and letting people know that they can be involved in preventing violence just by showing their support for survivors and saying ‘I am not going to let this happen to another person, not on my watch, if I see it happen, I’m going to intervene, I’m going to do whatever it is I have to do to make sure that this campus is safe for myself and for everyone around,’” Rogers said.

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