Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Week events to be held April 5-14

April 06, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) which is marked annually by various programs, workshops and events to educate the Penn State community and raise awareness. At Penn State, in recognition of SAAPM, the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) is collaborating with the Gender Equity Center and other campus partners and student organizations to host the annual Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention (SVAP) Week. This year, SVAP week is scheduled for April 5 through April 14, the theme of which is "Conquering Distance through Empathy."

“Our awareness and engagement opportunities look different this spring due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to ensure our Penn State community is engaging in programming in a safe way,” said Becca Geiger, assistant director of the Gender Equity Center, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs. “With the variety of engagements in mind, the SVAP Roundtable members intentionally picked the theme as 'Conquering Distance through Empathy,' to acknowledge that demonstrating empathy and support is possible no matter how our engagement opportunities look this year. It is a great reminder that being socially distant does not mean we have to be emotionally distant from each other and supporting the survivors in our community.”

Acknowledging the different ways students are fostering connections in the current environment, UPUA and the Gender Equity Center, along with their partners like Centre Safe, have provided creative ways for students, faculty and staff to get involved and promote awareness and support for victim survivors as well as educate their fellow Penn Staters on actions they can take to prevent violence.

The SVAP week schedule as well as other engagements throughout the month include:

Ongoing and multi-day events

Virtual 'What Were You Wearing?' Survivor Art Installation — held throughout April

"What were you wearing?" is an all too common and familiar question asked of victim survivors of sexual assault. The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation seeks to dispel the myth that victim survivors provoke perpetrators based upon how they dress by collecting stories from our Penn State community members of what they were wearing when they experienced sexual violence and assault. The Gender Equity Center has taken the exhibit virtual this year. You can view the gallery online. Penn State community members can add to the display by sharing their stories in the anonymous Microsoft Form. Through this project, the artists said they hope to dismantle rape culture and promote consent culture and support for victim survivors in our community.

SVAP Week Awareness Tabling — 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 2, 5 and 6, on the HUB lawn

Join UPUA, the Lion Ambassadors, the Gender Equity Center, and Centre Safe for a rock-painting break to spread messages of hope and support throughout our campus community. Participants will also receive succulents with materials to help them "grow" in their knowledge and advocacy for sexual violence prevention. The succulents represent growth within us and the community. The event aims to not only raise awareness of sexual violence by giving out community resources, but also invites community members to have a mindfulness moment, slowing down with a relaxing art project.

Men Against Violence (MAV) Walk – April 5-14 (see route map here)

In recognition of this year’s SVAP Week, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in an asynchronous Men Against Violence (MAV) Walk route, completing the walk in their own time. In accordance with University guidance, Penn State community members are asked to limit their walking-group sizes to 4-5 people and wear face masks when unable to be physically distant from those outside of their household or “pod.”

While male participation is encouraged, all are welcome to attend and promote. As proof of participation, as well as to promote awareness of the issue, participants will be asked to take a picture and post it to social media using the hashtag #WhyIWalk. Walkers will submit their participation and picture to a Microsoft form, which contains the route map and instructions.

Speakers, workshops and discussions

Reema Zaman: Freedom, Purpose, and Love After Trauma – 6:30 p.m. April 5, online, register here for free tickets.

As one of the keynote speakers for Sexual Violence and Awareness Prevention Week 2021, Reema Zaman is an award-winning writer, speaker, actress, and author of the critically acclaimed memoir "I AM YOURS." Reema will share a reading from her memoir with an accompanying keynote on the lessons she has learned, breaking free from abuse, turning pain into purpose, reclaiming her power and healing, and finding and succeeding in love after trauma. This event is sponsored by the Gender Equity Center, the University Park Undergraduate Association, Centre Safe, and Penn State Alpha Phi Alpha.

Pioneers of Prevention: Black Women Activists Against Sexual Violence – 6 p.m. April 6, online, register for the event here.

Join the Gender Equity Center for this important, rescheduled event. We will discuss the legacy of Black women activists who were at the forefront of movements against sexual violence and rape in America. As part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Gender Equity Center is highlighting these trailblazing activists and advocates which history erased. Navigating racism and sexism in their efforts to obtain justice for victim survivors and create a safer world, these female advocates and activists created a movement and continue to push the sexual violence prevention movement further today.

Honoring Survival: Transforming the Spirit – 5 p.m. April 7, in-person/virtual participation options, register for the event here.

Every year, as part of UPUA’s SVAP Week, the Gender Equity Center hosts the "Honoring Survival Event" in collaboration with Centre Safe. This year, the event will be offered in a hybrid format with in-person and virtual participation. In-person participation is limited and registration is required. This program honors the strength and resiliency of survivors of sexual, emotional and physical violence, and those who support them in their healing process. The intention is to bring these issues to light, focus on the courage and tenacity of the survivors, and highlight Penn State’s resources for those who are/have been victims of violence. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to the stories of survivors and those who support them through poetry, storytelling and music. In addition to stories, Melissa Leaym-Fernandez, Elephantworks Studio, will provide a take-and-make art project to promote strength and resiliency for all participants. The center is looking for both attendees and individuals interested in speaking and sharing their story of survival, resiliency and/or healing.

Take Back the Night – 6 p.m. April 8, online, to register contact Lambda Theta Alpha at

Take Back the Night is a program led by Lambda Theta Alpha at Penn State in order to provide victims of rape and sexual assault with a space to share their stories and learn their resources. This year the event will be held virtually, with support from the Gender Equity Center and Centre Safe.

Head + Heart = Hustle , a Work On Purpose Program Workshop – 6:30 p.m. April 8, online, register for the workshop here.

Join Stand for State to dig deep to uncover how to combine your passion and skills to help create change within your community.

Mónica Ramírez: Seeding Change – 6:30 p.m. April 13, online, free tickets are available here.

As one of the keynote speakers for Sexual Violence and Awareness Prevention week 2021, Mónica Ramírez is an activist, author, civil rights attorney, social entrepreneur and speaker. Ramírez will speak on "Seeding Change," discussing how farmworker women are leading the fight to end workplace sexual violence, from the fields to Hollywood. Engaged in direct service and advocacy on behalf of farmworkers, Latinas and immigrant women, Ramírez employs a holistic, victim-centered approach to her work and she is an ardent supporter of worker-led movements. This event is sponsored by the Gender Equity Center, UPUA, Centre Safe, Penn State Alpha Phi Alpha, and the HOPE Center at Lock Haven University.

'Know My Name': An Empowering Book Chat with Chanel Miller – 6:30 p.m. April 14, online, register for this free event here.

Chanel Miller is a writer and artist who received her bachelor's degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her critically acclaimed memoir, "Know My Name," was a New York Times' bestseller and Book Review Notable Book, and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, as well as the best book of 2019 in Time Magazine, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, NPR and People, among others. She is a 2019 Time 'Next 100' honoree and a 2016 Glamour 'Woman of the Year' honoree under her pseudonym, “Emily Doe.” This event is sponsored by UPUA, the Gender Equity Center, the Presidential Leadership Academy, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, and the Paterno Fellows Program.

Thanks to UPUA and Presidential Leadership Academy, participants in the virtual book club discussion with the Gender Equity Center can get a free copy of "Know My Name" by Chanel Miller. Pick up your free copy while supplies last by stopping by the UPUA Office in 314 HUB. For questions about the book or pick up, email Erin Brown at

Show your support

Denim Day – April 28, all day

Wear denim on April 28 to show support for survivors of sexual violence while protesting violence and the rape-myth mentality behind countless instances of victim-blaming experienced by survivors on a regular basis. To participate in Denim Day, the Gender Equity Center is asking community members to take a picture of themselves dressed in denim on April 28. Then, they can share the picture on social media tagging @pennstategeneq, using the hashtag #DenimDay2021, and expressing why they support survivors. Pictures also can be emailed to Becca Geiger at to be shared on the Gender Equity social media platforms.

Follow the Gender Equity Center

Follow the Gender Equity Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using @PennStateGenEq to stay up-to-date, or visit Join the Gender Equity Center listserv by emailing

Last Updated April 15, 2021