Pitt Turns Teal for a Virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Teal cards with encouraging messages written on them posted to a cork boardIn January, Carrie Benson and her team with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) started planning for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), which takes place annually in April. Little did they know the weeks that followed would bring an unforeseen set of challenges due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Earlier this term, we gathered a group of 35 dedicated faculty, staff and students to begin planning. The committee ranged from participants from all different parts of campus, including the Center for Creativity, the Office of Residence Life and Greek Life,” said Benson, prevention and education coordinator at ODI. “We had 14 different events planned to reach all campus populations. Pitt was going to turn teal,” said Benson, referring to the color adopted as a symbol of sexual assault prevention.

In March, Benson and the committee learned that they’d need to cancel many of the events they planned to promote the prevention of sexual misconduct, raise awareness for resources and to support survivors and allies.

“While we were initially disappointed, the committee soon realized that Pitt could still turn teal. We had no other choice. We knew we could still send a message to the entire community that Pitt stands against sexual assault and that we all have the power to eradicate all forms of sexual misconduct,” said Benson.

And so, throughout the month of April, the Pitt community can still participate in virtual events and turn Pitt teal for SAAM.

“We can still support the survivors on campus and in our lives, and we can still educate ourselves,” said Benson.

Virtual events

Throughout the month, the SAAM committee will host virtual events and online resources for the Pitt community:

  • April 1-17: A virtual resource fair will take place, complete with online Q&A sessions with the Title IX Office on April 2, Sexual Assault Facilitation and Education (SAFE) on April 7, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) on April 9 and SETPoint on April 10. Each day will also feature a different campus or community resource on the resource fair’s website.
  • April 6: Join PAAR and the Title IX Office for a webinar designed to help faculty and staff members best support survivors of sexual misconduct; 10 a.m.-noon; register online.
  • April 8: Undergraduate students are invited to join a webinar focused on bystander intervention training where they can learn about consent and student resources; 4-5 p.m.; register online.
  • April 14: Graduate students are invited to log in to a discussion-based session to learn how to recognize and respond to sexual harassment and other types of harassment and discrimination in an academic setting; noon-1:30 p.m.; register online.
  • April 15: Join a workshop focused on preventing and responding to sexual misconduct, and learn about resources available to all community members. Participants will also discuss the results of the AAU Campus Climate survey. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; register here.

  • April 16: This webinar will be focused on how to support sexual assault survivors belonging to marginalized communities—specifically gay Black and Latino men. Daniel Jacobson López, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, will discuss his research on the sexual assault reporting process among gay Latino and Black men and recommendations for supporting gay male sexual assault survivors of color. This workshop is open to all students, faculty and staff. 11 a.m-noon; register here.

  • All month long: The campus community is invited to share messages of support for survivors. These messages will be posted on the Pitt Supports Survivors webpage. People are also encouraged to post messages of support on their own social media accounts during the month of April using the hashtag #PittSupportsSurvivors.