Denim Day raises awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Centro La Familia used a pair of jeans to convey resources and motivational messages. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

The Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) and the Cross-Cultural and Gender Center (CCGC) encouraged students to wear denim at the in-person Sexual Assault Awareness Month resource fair on Wednesday, April 27 to raise awareness about sexual violence.

This year, Denim Day returned in-person at the Free Speech Area after transitioning to a social media campaign for the last two years due to COVID-19. The resource fair invited local organizations and campus-based groups to distribute information and free gifts to students during the event.

Denim Day began in 1998 after an Italian Supreme Court ruling overturned a rape conviction due to the “tight jeans” the victim was wearing at the time, which the justices ruled implied consent as the victim “must have” helped the perpetrator remove her jeans, according to campus survivor advocate Mindy Kates. 

The Cross-Cultural and Gender Center encouraged students to write motivational messages on pieces of denim to decorate their office with. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

“Denim Day is [a] day to bring awareness of sexual assault and the misconception that clothing has anything to do with the cause of sexual assault,” she said. 

Now the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history according to Kates, the event invites students, staff and community members to make a “social statement” with their fashion by wearing denim to protest the misconception. Campuses and other organizations around the world participate in Denim Day each year.

Project HOPE, Fresno State’s case management team, gave away affirmation cards and other freebies while promoting its groups currently available to students. Groups range from skill-building and education-based as in “Bulldog Steps” to body acceptance development in “Body Project.”

The Project Hope coordinators pose for a picture. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

The team highlighted “Whole Heart Talk,” a healing group for female-identifying students, and “Healing Hearts” for individuals on campus affected by sexual trauma. More information about these groups can be found at Project HOPE’s website or by contacting Kates.

The CCGC gave students the opportunity to write inspirational messages for victims of sexual violence on pieces of denim fabric, which will be used to decorate its office in the Thomas Building. 

Tables gave out resources and encouraged students to leave encouraging messages for others. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)

Local organizations including Marjaree Mason Center, Centro La Familia and Rape Counseling Services (RCS) of Fresno provided information for programs and resources available within the community for victims of sexual violence, human trafficking and more. More information is available at its websites.

At this time, Kates is the sole survivor advocate for the Fresno State campus. A second position has been posted on the Fresno State career page, according to Kates.

“We hope to have them hired this summer,” she said. “Survivor Advocacy Services are year round services, so we are open during the summer. We serve students, staff and faculty.”

Fresno State offers comprehensive support to victims, including medical exams and treatment, emotional support, counseling services, assisting with police interactions, filing restraining orders and more. 

Kates can be contacted at (559) 278-6796 or mkates@mail.fresnostate.edu for more information and assistance. 

Any student, staff or faculty member who has been a victim of sexual violence can contact the University Police Department at  (559) 278-8400 to file a report. Reports can be made anonymously. 

One table encouraged students to pin inspirational messages to this board. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)
Students left inspirational messages for others at the event. (Jesús Cano/The Collegian)
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