By Liana Hanokaee
On Tuesday, October 26, 2021, the Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) club held an event titled “Title IX Discussion, Sexual Violence and Supporting Survivors.” The main speaker, Chloe Horowitz, spoke passionately throughout the Zoom event, along with speakers Dean Joe Bednarsh and Shira Silton.
Chloe Horowitz is a trauma therapist and campus outreach and prevention coordinator at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. After she explained how Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools, Horowitz went into detail about the importance of identifying what counts as sexual misconduct, who are people that might commit sexual assault, how students can become more aware of sexual assault, and what students can do to take action so as not to be bystanders. Furthermore, Horowitz informed the audience that “about 80% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by somebody that the person knows … and that is because it is easier for people to have access to somebody if they know them … this could just be an acquaintance or somebody that somebody just met on a dating app.” She discussed this throughout the Zoom meeting, stressing the importance of awareness of this point.
The event was very interactive, as Horowitz incorporated a temporary question-and-answer poll system throughout the presentation, allowing participants in the Zoom to voice their opinions and create an engaging learning experience.
Dean Joe Bednarsh, Associate Dean of Students at Yeshiva University spoke next, speaking about how although he believes that all of the students are safe on campus, he wants everyone to feel safe on campus. Dean Bednarsh went on to encourage students to reach out to him with any of their concerns.
Shira Silton, Senior Therapist at Yeshiva University and associated graduate schools, shared that “everything that you report to us is confidential and also nonjudgmental. Our goal as therapists is to really provide a safe and comfortable space for you to open up wherever you are in the process,” referring to the process of internalizing the events of a trauma to a victim or reporting an individual. Silton further discussed the importance of trust in yourself and the people around you, exploring how all aspects of one’s life affect each other.
Around 20 students were present, and at the end, there was some time allotted when students were able to speak or get questions answered. One participant in the Zoom meeting asked, “If you are in a social setting and someone you know who has been sexually mistreated themselves says something sexist or incorrect about sexual conduct, is there a good way to respond to him? Should you respond in that social setting or is there a way to combat that?” Silton answered that one could respond to this person by saying words along the lines of, “It pains me to see you like this, to see you in pain and I am worried about you. Can I accompany you or help you seek help?”
Another participant, Benny Klein (YC ‘24), SASA board member, commented in the meeting, “It seems like people are only willing to start trusting someone even just a little bit when they know them and… a little bit more trust at first makes it easier for something to be bound to happen.”
Participants expressed positive feedback regarding the event and the SASA club. After the event, a participant shared with one of SASA’s board members that, “We need more awareness in the Jewish community and in general.”
Due to alleged events that have taken place on campus this year, events such as this one, which raise awareness of issues dealing with sexual assault, are more relevant than ever. It is up to students to take action in educating themselves and being there for each other. If students do not look out for each other, then who will?