‘An epidemic that swarms us all’: Denim Day raises awareness of sexual violence on campus
Bella Laufenberg | Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Editor’s note: This article includes discussions of sexual violence. A list of sexual assault reporting options and on-campus resources can be found on the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross websites.
2022 marks the 23rd celebration of Denim Day, which is an international campaign.
Denim Day originated from a court case in Italy in 1999. In the case, a judge overruled a rape conviction based on the assumption that a woman gave consent to a man because her jeans were too tight to take off alone. As a response to that case, Denim Day has been celebrated every year since 1999 The movement calls for everyone to wear jeans in order to show support to sexual assault victims.
“[Denim Day] is one of the simplest ways to show solidarity about such an important issue,” sophomore Lane Obringer, student government director of gender relations for Title IX and women’s initiatives, said.
Although international Denim Day is April 27, Notre Dame’s campus will celebrate Tuesday. Obringer said this was to ensure students could participate fully because April 27 falls on one of the reading days before finals.
Along with calling for all students to wear denim in solidarity, programming will also be held throughout the day.
The GRC and Callisto will co-sponsor tables with information on sexual assault on Fieldhouse Mall and in Fitzpatrick Courtyard from noon until 4 p.m.
At 5:30 p.m., the GRC will host a dinner and discussion in the Notre Dame Room in LaFortune Student Center. Students must register for this event in advance.
Notre Dame student government is sponsoring the last event of the day, which will be held in Midfield Commons in Duncan Student Center. Obringer said she will lead the event and will speak about the importance of Denim Day.
Obringer said students who attend the event will have the opportunity to fill out “Dear Survivor” cards. The cards have “Dear Survivor” written on them and blank space to write a note. Obringer said the cards will be collected and displayed at North Dining Hall and online throughout the rest of the week.
“One in four women on this campus have been sexually assaulted,” she said. “We know that they’re among us, but it’s just less likely that you know who they are. So, wherever you are throughout your day, seeing that other students within the student population support you and are there for you, even though you might not know them, we hope to just bring peace to people.”
Obringer is also Notre Dame’s campus champion for Callisto, a service available to the tri-campus community that aims to prevent sexual assault by utilizing the statistic that most perpetrators are repeat offenders. Obringer said she works with Callisto to make its resources more well-known.
There are many other campus resources in addition to Callisto that sexual violence victims can use to report their offender, Obringer explained. Residential life employees and anyone paid by the University are nonconfidential resources and mandatory reporters, such the Notre Dame Police Department (NDPD), Speak Up and the deputy Title IX office. University Health Services (UHS), University Counseling Center (UCC) and any professed religious at Campus Ministries are all confidential resources.
Obringer said she hopes Denim Day will allow more students to engage in conversation and allyship for survivors of sexual assault.
“I’m asking people to get involved. I want conversations. I want activism. I want change, but I can’t really start unless people acknowledge [sexual assault] on campus,” she said. “So often we forget that we’re in a pandemic right now, and that’s been going on for two years, but sexual assault has been going on for our entire life, since colleges have existed. It’s an epidemic that swarms us all.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified NDPD, Speak Up and the deputy Title IX office as confidential resources. The Observer regrets this error.