On Aril 26, individuals and various student organizations, including athletic teams, single gender social groups and student government groups, came together and wore denim to raise awareness for sexual assault in recognition. Denim Day has taken place for the past eighteen years after a convicted rapist was set free thanks to a 1999 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court, which argued that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have aided her assaulter in taking them off, thereby implying consent. This year, demonstrations took place in over fifty cities across the United States. Denim Day also takes place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month every April.
Students had many different reasons for supporting this cause, but one thing everyone agreed on was that sexual assault is indeed an issue on college campuses and that needs to be addressed. The following quotes and pictures share the perspectives and stories from people who sported denim on the day:
Student Saul Urbina-Johnson ’19 stands with boards displaying the various student organizations which signed on in support of Denim Day.
“Becoming a CARE, getting trained for 50 hours and doing these workshops around campus really shows me how much work we have to do but how many people are willing to stand by us with that progress. Events like Harvard wears denim is really about pushing the social culture and making people very aware of how universal sexual violence is to all of us, as well as realising that we are stronger together.” —Jackie Kellogg ’19
“I think as an all-male group it’s important to make this campus a climate where we don’t support rape culture, and all the things that might go along with that such as sexual harassment or being inviting to values that aren’t necessarily masculine or of other frames of mind.” — Kanon Dean ’18, member of the Wrestling Team.
Harvard’s Wrestling Team holds a sign in support of Denim Day.
“It’s a day to stand in solidarity with all the people, especially women, who have been affected by sexual assaults. The reason I’m wearing painted jeans is because I think it’s a really powerful message to own it on my body and have these words painted on my legs to kind of reclaim the female body. I think that it is something that needs to be talked about on this campus and I’m glad that today is a really big and inclusive conversation with a lot of people participating.” — Maggie Powell ’19
“One out of five women experience some sort of sexual violence on college campus and so I think that makes it is everyone’s issue. I think everyone should care about it if they’re paying attention.” — Julia Huesa ’20
“For me I think my sentiments are very similar. I have grown up with strong women around me – my mom and my two older sisters, who are both doing amazing things right now. For me, sexual assault is something that no one should ever have to experience and anything I can do to raise awareness to limit the extent to which it happens on campus and also spread a message beyond college campuses is very important to me, so I’m glad I could participate today.” — Kabir Gandhi ’19 (left), member of the Phoenix Club
“When I think of anything sexual assault related I think of all the important women in my life. My mom is someone who is very important to me and I just want to make sure that I’m making all of the steps that I can as a male to show solidarity and educate myself on how I can be better in terms of dealing with women just because women are such a pivotal part of my life and my upbringing and who I am.” — Jefferey Huang ’19 (right), member of the Phoenix Club
Members of the Phoenix Club donned denim to demonstrate support. Final clubs have been identified as contributors to the problem of sexual assault on campus by university bodies such as the University’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention.
“It’s reassuring to see so many clubs willing to partake in such an important day. I feel like sexual assault is the elephant in the room especially here in such an elite institution but I’m glad that a lot of conversations have been started and people are starting to stand up more for survivors or people who have had to unfortunately face sexual assault here on campus. It’s really great that there’s this whole day dedicated to recognising the fact that this is a big issue here on campus and it’s not something that we should just put into a corner.” — Diana Barreto ’19
“I think as a member of CARE it’s always special to see all the various groups that come out for this event to show their solidarity whether it’s on an individual or a club level. We have people from sports teams, from single gender organisations, and from the student government. One of the big components is the training we do for the freshman when they first come in, and the training that we do for leaders of different organisations. I think that signing up for this voluntary event that’s for a huge cause shows that people aren’t just participating in these trainings to say, ‘Hey, I did it, I’m done,’ but they actually care about this cause. It’s important on such a busy campus where there are so many high achieving students doing so many special things to take time to reflect and to raise advocacy for this. I think shows that we’re moving in the right direction as a society, starting at least here at Harvard.” — Victor Agbafe ’19
“It’s obviously super important to show solidarity as a campus. That’s the whole point of this – to bring everyone together to end this kind of campus culture. Consensus is something that’s and right and it’s necessary and it’s important and this we want to bring awareness to that through something like this.” – Ian Saum ’20
“I think this is an incredibly important issue at Harvard and I’m really inspired to see so many students come today and show their solidarity with survivors.” — Arianna Kahn ’18
“I think it’s an important way to get out our mission as CARE’s and also to show as a community that we do care about this pressing issue.” — Franci Van Rhyn ’19