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Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Last updated: 9:45am

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UA organizations invite students to counterprotest student preacher, promote campus positivity



UA organizations will hold a counterprotest today against a student preacher in order to demonstrate their commitment to promoting a safe campus environment.

Students have the chance to make their own poster responding to Dean Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, who held a sign last week on campus that read “you deserve rape.”

Markers and posters will be provided so that students can write in their own idea about what the UA community and students deserve at the Alumni Plaza in front of the Administration building today from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Students will hold up their signs at Heritage Hill, where Saxton preaches, to convey a more positive community at the UA, said Kathy Young, an OASIS program psychologist.

The Women’s Interest Collaborative, Association of Women Faculty, Commission on the Status of Women, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, OASIS Program Against Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence, Southwest Institute for Research on Women, UA ADVANCE, Women’s Resource Center and the Women’s Studies Advisory Council organized the event.

“Obviously, we are very passionate and care very much about issues of rape and misogyny and we want to make sure that everyone knows this is not the campus climate at the UA — this is not how the community feels about these issues,” said Krista Millay, the program director for the Women’s Resource Center. “In general, we all want a safe campus. Rape is an unacceptable behavior under all situations. It’s not a social justice that any of us are working toward.”

All of the groups involved in organizing the event agreed that the “You Deserve …” event is the type of action they wanted to take to counter the recent campus activity of Saxton’s “you deserve rape” sign, Millay added.

The event is an “opportunity for the university community to join forces to counter the current dialogue and reinforce the University of Arizona’s true campus climate,” said Kendal Washington White, interim dean of students, in an email interview.

Some students agree that this is an appropriate way to counter Saxton’s signs.

“It’s a good idea because obviously, you shouldn’t battle fire with fire,” said Zaida Barajas, a special education and rehabilitation freshman. “It’s positive as opposed to just saying, ‘You deserve to go to hell,’ or stuff like that.”

Other students said the event could be a good way to put the UA in a positive light.

“[It] would keep a better image of the university because people who are not at the university right now, they see this event,” said Tara Hashemi, a second year graduate student studying French. “[With this event] they’ll see that students disagree with that and try to fight it in their own specific way.”

The OASIS program chose to help organize the event because sexual assault and relationship violence impact college-aged people at high levels, according to Young. Those events can have a long lasting impact on people, Young added.

“The OASIS program is concerned about the impact of the offensive messages about rape on all folks on campus,” Young said. “We, in collaboration with the Women’s Interest Collaborative, wanted to create a positive event reminding students that most of us here on campus, that we deserve positive things on campus.”


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