Safe Sisters IU, an organization under the Panhellenic Association, organized a display Monday to raise awareness of sexual assault on IU’s campus. The display can be seen in Dunn Meadow from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
According to an Instagram post on the Safe Sisters Instagram account, blue flags have been placed in Dunn Meadow to represent the thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who have experienced non-consensual touching or complete sexual penetration. The display occurs during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
There are 204 flags in total to represent sexual assault survivors at IU: 110 flags represent nearly 11,000 women who have experienced non-consensual touching, 39 flags represent 3,826 women who have experienced non-consensual attempted or complete sexual penetration and 55 flags represent 555 men who have experienced non-consensual attempted or complete sexual penetration.
Junior Sarah Smith, culture chair of Safe Sisters, came up with the idea for the display. She said she’d seen a similar event earlier in the year in Dunn Meadow, which she remembered when Safe Sisters began discussing Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“I thought that made a stark visual impact,” Smith said. “I noticed it, I saw it and I learned more.”
Members of Safe Sisters met at Dunn Meadow at 9 a.m. to set up the flags, she said.
“It was somber,” Smith said.
She said while Safe Sisters IU knew it was doing work that served a good purpose, the members did so with heavy hearts. Smith said the Safe Sisters ultimately knew the display would bring more awareness about sexual assault to campus.
According to its website, Safe Sisters aids sororities in supporting survivors of sexual assault and spreading education about consent, rape culture, hookup culture and bystander culture in the greek community. Safe Sisters is made up of women from IU’s 22 sororities and is trained by IU’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Victim Advocacy. Junior Courtney Kocal, vice president of personal development for the Panhellenic Association said there are 240 Safe Sisters between the 22 sororities.
Kocal said Safe Sisters do not report cases of sexual assault, but rather provide support and information about options and resources to survivors. Kocal said the goal of the display is to help people visualize the number of people sexually assaulted on IU’s campus.
“Going and seeing these flags and seeing how much space it takes up in Dunn Meadow and knowing the statistics behind all of them really makes people think,” Kocal said.
She said while the flags represent data provided to IU’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Victim Advocacy, there could be more unknown survivors. She said she hopes sexual assault will eventually not be a problem for anyone.
“Hopefully one day we can get to a time where there are no flags and you don’t have to do visual representations to see when a problem is going on so that the problem does go away,” Kocal said. “I don’t know what that process will look like, but hopefully that is something that we can get to one day.”