Students show support for survivors of sexual assault on Denim Day

April 27, 2022, 10:21 p.m.

All across campus, students donned denim to support survivors of sexual assault on Wednesday, taking part in Denim Day, a global campaign to support survivors of sexual violence. 

Campus recognition of Denim Day, which falls during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, was organized by the SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Education) Title IX Office. 

Lizzie Dowdle ’22, who works in the SHARE Title IX Office, explained in an email that Denim Day was created in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court ruling which overturned a rape conviction on the grounds that a victim must have assisted her assaulter in removing her jeans. 

“The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim,” she wrote. This year, Dowdle and the SHARE office chose to adopt a hybrid model for Denim Day, including Instagram highlights and a physical table at White Plaza.

The SHARE Title IX Office has also hosted other programs throughout the month, Dowdle wrote. On April 17, the SHARE Office hosted Take Back the Night, an event  “designed to give survivors and allies a chance to share their stories [of sexual violence] with the Stanford community,” Dowdle wrote.

Standing in solidarity with survivors was a priority for Yesenia Garcia ’24 and Paloma Ronis ’25, two participants in Denim Day. 

Garcia said that Denim Day provides an opportunity to “come together around the globe and show our support in debunking misconceptions surrounding sexual assault survivors, educating others and showing our support for all these survivors.”

Ronis agreed with Garcia, adding that a “visible indicator of support for survivors of sexual violence” is important.

Both Garcia and Ronis also discussed legal challenges in providing justice for victims of sexual assault. 

Ronis said, “[It is] all too common for survivors of sexual assault to not receive justice or to experience further harm at the hands of the criminal justice system.” Therefore, spaces for “healing and support in community” are especially important. 

Likewise, Garcia, who hopes to pursue a future in law, expressed concerns “about legislation and government policies that make it difficult for sexual assault survivors to be taken seriously.”

Angelica Perez ’25, another Denim Day participant, said she hopes the day will promote conversation and knowledge about sexual assault prevention. 

“I hope that people ask questions like ‘Why are you wearing denim today? And what does that mean to you?’” Perez explained. “And just continue [having] these conversations about [sexual assault prevention].” 

Perez said she chose to participate in Denim Day because she has family members who are survivors of sexual assault. Even though the case that prompted Denim Day’s founding took place nearly two decades ago, “rape culture is a large part of our society today when survivors come out and speak about like their experiences,” Perez said. 

“For me, wearing denim shows… clothing shouldn’t be an excuse to justify someone’s sexual violence,” she said.

Like Perez, Ronis wishes to combat the “culture of apathy” surrounding sexual violence. She hopes Denim Day can provide an opportunity for survivors to “visualize solidarity other students have with them on this issue.”

For other students, Ronis believes the day highlights “how easy it is to show support and offer a helping hand to survivors and also to get them to start thinking about ways they can further get involved in the fight against sexual violence.”

Zoe Edelman '25 is one of The Daily's managing editors of the News section. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dogs and sitting outside with a coffee.

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