By Ruchama Benhamou, Features Editor
Each month, the YU Observer aims to highlight one club available to the YU undergraduate community. For the November 2021 edition, the YU Observer is highlighting the Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) club.
Club Name: Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA)
Heads: Cayla Muschel, Noa Berman
Relevant Campus(es): Beren, Wilf
What is your club’s mission statement?
Students Against Sexual Assault is an undergraduate organization committed to working toward a safer university experience at YU. We aim to educate, advocate, and promote a safe campus culture.
Why is this club important?
Now more than ever, our club is essential. This is because we believe there is not enough awareness or resources for students when it comes to sexual assault. Our club hopes to spread awareness and knowledge of the resources that exist as well as advocate to create new resources on our campuses if necessary. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that sexual assault happens on every college campus, and we want to work toward educating people on how to prevent, identify and respond to sexual assault.
What was your pull to get involved in/start the club?
Noa Berman (NB): Unfortunately, many people close to me are survivors of sexual assault, so it is a topic that is not new to me. The issue is considered taboo in general but especially in the Jewish community, and I don’t want victims to feel alone or have to stay quiet. I felt that it was essential for me to join SASA to help make the campus a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Cayla Muschel (CM): I feel very strongly that being on campus at YU should be a positive experience for everyone, and for that to happen, everyone must feel physically safe. I think SASA helps establish a safe environment, and that’s an integral part of working overall toward a healthy campus life. Joining SASA felt like a crucial part of the overall advocacy, and it’s definitely something I’m passionate about in and of itself.
What are some things your club has done in the past?
We have had several events such as an “Informational Q&A” event where we had students send in questions about reporting sexual assault, abusive relationships, and other related topics. We had therapists from the counseling center and other qualified professionals as panelists answered questions posed by students then opened it to other questions from the attendees.
There was a “Healthy Relationship” presentation, where we invited Chloe Horowitz to present an informational and interactive slideshow about signs of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. How to spot abuse and manipulation and discussed how to get help and how to help others who are in unhealthy relationships.
We had a “Survivor Speaker” where we partnered with the Shalom Task Force to have a survivor of sexual assault come and tell her story.
Earlier this year we had a “Title IX” event to provide a basic understanding of what it legally encompasses and to give resources to the students.
What are some plans you have for this semester/future semesters?:
Distributing alarms for SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month), a self-defense event for both campuses, and a bake sale!
What is your favorite OSL-provided food for club events?:
NB: Pizza is my favorite food in general, so I feel like I have to go with that.
CM: Pizza is the call.
How is your club adapting to being back on campus?
The club’s first official year was when everyone was off-campus due to COVID, so we’re excited for all the possibilities and preparing for the possible challenges that being on campus brings.
What is your advice to someone looking to get involved on campus?:
NB: Join as many group chats as you can (I know they get annoying, but it’s an excellent way to see what’s going on on campus). Go to as many events as possible. Join any club that you find interesting. Stay in for Shabbat. On-campus jobs are also a great way to meet new people while making money. Just take advantage of everything that the campus has to offer. Take advantage of your time here. It’s going to go by faster than you think.
CM: When you find a club that seems interesting, apply! Join group chats! If you take the initiative, fate often ends up aligning, and you begin to be active on campus. Honestly, I don’t know how I became involved in campus life, so I don’t feel equipped to answer this question. Anyway, crash your battery with the number of group chats you’re in.
Anything else to say about your club:
Join our group chat to stay updated on different events and initiatives SASA will be running, and follow us on Instagram at @sasa_atyu!