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Students start club advocating against sexual assault

<p>New Title IX regulations are coming to strengthen the rights of those accused. </p>

New Title IX regulations are coming to strengthen the rights of those accused.

Josie Carter is tired of seeing sexual assault reports at Miami. So she decided to do something about it.

Carter, a Miami University sophomore, started Sexual Assault Survivor Support (SASS), a new anti-sexual assault club on campus that met for the first time Tuesday, Feb. 18. The club aims to connect survivors and to provide a space to talk about ways Miami University students can work to end sexual assault.

Carter said she recently became inspired to start her own club to help connect survivors of sexual assault on campus after a recent winter-term trip to San Fransisco. 

 “I feel guilty,” she said. “I mainly started this club to help cope with my own experiences.” 

Josie Carter stated after her own personal experiences with sexual assault last fall, she had decided to take action for herself and for the community.

The winter program, “Designing Your Life”, teaches students about entrepreneurship through on-site visits to female-founded businesses in Cincinnati and San Francisco. This experience prompted Carter to pitch her idea to an audience of classmates.

“I was impressed by how she planned on putting it all together. I wanted to be a part of it,” first-year Taylor Beasley said.

Junior Jannie Kamara, another student with the Designing your Life program, also joined the club because of Carter’s story. 

“After hearing it all, I wanted to join her on this journey against sexual assault,” Kamara said.

Carter thought it was neccesary to create the club due to the rising statistics of sexual assault reports at Miami. Last fall, students reported 40 sexual assaults as opposed to 28 in Fall 2018. 

Carter mentioned many potential events and ideas during SASS’ first meeting. The organization’s plans include a march on campus sponsored by the Take Back The Night Foundation and a collaboration with Brick Street Bar & Grill in April for sexual assault awareness month. SASS also hopes to distribute teal ribbons, the color commonly associated with sexual assault awareness, and SipChips, small portable tests to determine if a drink has been spiked with something. 

While the club is still in its early stages, there is no interest within the group to become an official on-campus organization, at least for now. Carter is concerned the university could restrict the group.

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“I want to do what I want,” Carter said, “say what I want.”

“You have to tip-toe around what the university wants you to put out,” she added. “That’s what makes this organization unique.” 

JS Bragg, the assistant director for student organizations, addressed similar concerns to those held by SASS in an interview with The Miami Student.

“We actively encourage any and all student organizations here on campus. We also cannot treat organizations differently from one another,” he said.

Without funding from the university, the group will have to improvise. Carter plans to rely on donations, while also discussing possible grants from various organizations, including Undercover Colors, the developers of SipChip. 

Carter also reasoned that selling food and baked goods could be a possible source of money. Other methods included collaborations with Feminists Working On Real Democracy (F-WORD), a feminist organization at Miami. Carter also discussed using personal funds to ensure the survival of her club.

While SASS is still finding its footing, the organization’s big plans for the future hope to connect sexual assault survivors and give them a voice.