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4th year GVSC intern Sara Dunklee had one question for UVA students: Imagine UVA free of sexual violence, what would be different?”

About

“This project aims to bring awareness to the presence of sexual violence at our university and remind those that it takes a whole student body to make a worthwhile change.

The Vision Board came about from the organization Hidden Voices who gave me the opportunity and resources to ask fellow students, ‘Imagine UVA free of sexual violence, what would be different?’”

Content warning: Includes mentions of sexual violence that may be triggering to readers. If you are struggling, you can find resources here.

Student Quotes:

“I’d be able to sleep under the stars.”

“I'd feel a lot more excited about the prospect of going to parties, and probably have way more fun going out with my friends.”

“I'd wear more clothing to classes and out and about in general that makes me feel beautiful instead of clothes that make me feel safer.”

“I think broadly it would create a much happier student body. Living without the constant presence of sexual violence would lift a huge amount of strain off of students in their daily lives.”

“I would take walks. I could take evening classes. I wouldn’t have to look over my shoulder all the time when I go around Grounds. I could feel comfortable in my own skin. I wouldn’t be worried about opening up or making connections with people. I wouldn't have to grip my pepper spray when I walk. I could go someplace without my heart pounding in fear. I could trust other people, specifically the cis male student body, more easily and not feel guilty for keeping them at a distance even though it makes me feel safe. I wouldn’t have to worry about being the 1 in 5. I wouldn’t have to worry about getting pregnant or disease or being traumatized from rape. I wouldn’t have to juggle trying to balance my intuition and instincts with my ‘rational’ optimistic mind. I never would have had to watch the skit that first years were required to watch in 2020 that literally depicted the inner thoughts of a female UVA student as she was being raped, showing her to be a husk of the person she once was, traumatized, broken, while the guy who did it just “didn’t know” and had zero consequences outside of his friends telling him that it wasn’t okay. The skit may have been fictional, but it told me all I needed to know about this university. If this university were free from sexual violence, people would not have to go through the actual experiences shown in that skit nor be forced to watch a video like that their first year and basically get the message that if you get raped at UVA, they’ll encourage you to see CAPS and do absolutely nothing about the person who did it or get you real help. I think people would work together with fewer barriers. The things I mentioned wouldn’t even be an issue. I wouldn’t have to consider my own safety in this way just because I was born in this body. People of all gender identities would benefit from a campus free of sexual violence. I wouldn’t have to even worry about the scary question of ‘What if that happens?’ and the knowledge that there are people in this country (this school, even) who will say that I was ‘asking for it.’ It would just never be on my mind, and I could spend my time focused on my classes, my friends, and the things I enjoy.”

“I could go on a run of darker parts of campus without worrying about my safety.”

“Girls wouldn’t have to step into the night frightened about being alone.”

“I wouldn’t have to watch my friends leave my dorm and worry that I may never see them again or that the next time that I do see them is under very different circumstances.”

“I wouldn’t have to run through all possible worse-case scenarios in my mind.”

“I wouldn’t be afraid walking to the dining halls after the sun had set. I wouldn’t be afraid of walking into parking garages by myself. I wouldn’t have to fear that me stepping into an elevator with a stranger could result in me wishing I would have just taken the stairs. I wouldn’t have to worry about if my friends and roommates will return from a party or if someone they thought they trusted turned out not to be the person they thought they were. I just wouldn’t have to worry about the safety of those around me who are not as strong as we all hope we are.”

Project Credits:

There are so many people to thank as this project comes to a close. First, I would like to thank and commend everyone who submitted responses for this project. Reading through all your responses reminds me of why I work to combat gender based violence and sexual violence atUVA. Second, I would like to thank Katie Jane Villanueva for her artistic contributions to this project. Your art always leaves myself and others in awe. Third, I would like to thank The Women’s Center and fellow interns for supporting this project and giving it a platform to live on. Thank you to my team: Raghda, Gabriela, and Taylor as well as the social media team. Finally, I would like to thank the organization Hidden Voices for giving me the opportunity to create this project. Thank you.