Clearing the air on ‘Carrying the Weight’ campaign

The “Carrying the Weight” campaign was a huge success at Rutgers. I appreciate the coverage from The Daily Targum in the action — however, there are some things that needed to be mentioned, but were not included in the article. The article only covered the march aspect of the day-long action. Thank you so much to the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance for all of your help with making the campaign successful in such a short period of time. The march was a great part of the action, but it was not the only part.

From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., student volunteers were standing at the steps of Brower Commons and in front of Douglass Student Center passing out resource sheets, talking about the campaign and getting signatures from students who pledged to do their part in creating and maintaining a campus that is free of sexual violence. The resource sheets, made by Women Organizing Against Harassment, have important information on services for survivors of violence. On the back of the resource sheet is a definition of enthusiastic consent, which is the idea that consent between people should be clear and understandable before engaging in sex. Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, we were able to distribute over 700 resource sheets to students. The pledges had five statements on ways that students pledged to decrease the incidence of sexual assault on campus, including intervening when a friend is in a dangerous situation, speaking up when people use language or jokes that perpetuate rape culture and working to create a supportive environment for survivors. 

The article also failed to mention the numerous organizations besides VPVA that put efforts into making this action a success. These organizations include: Women Organizing Against Harassment, Douglass Residential College, Speak Out: Exploring Womanhood, Rutgers University Students Assembly, Sigma Psi Zeta, Women’s Center Coalition, Douglass Friends of UNFPA and Rutgers Residence Life. There were also many more organizations, staff and faculty that sent email blasts to students informing them about the campaign. One of the most frustrating aspects of the article was the failure to mention Woman Organizing Against Harassment. They had a huge role in the planning and execution of the action, and as the student organization on campus whose mission it is to address these issues, the fact that they were not included speaks to lack of research that was done on the groundwork that it took to organize the campaign.

Students who participated in the action carried their mattress all over campus — to class, on the bus, to work, everywhere. The weight of those mattresses is heavy and symbolizes the weight that survivors carry around everyday. That was a major part of the action that was left out. The fact that we organized this action in six days speaks to the incredible dedication and support that the students had for this action. I am appreciative of the work that was done by the Rutgers departments that were mentioned in the article. But the students were the driving force behind making the action a success. There was a Facebook event called “Help Rutgers Carry the Weight” that listed all of the organizations involved. It also shows over 200 students that participated in the action and contains information on all of the happenings that were going on that day. Thank you to the Targum for covering this action. It was very important for me to tell the Rutgers community the facts that were left out of the article, and I appreciate you for allowing me to voice my opinion.

Kaila Boulware is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in public health in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She is also a Douglass Residential College student and the head organizer for the “Carrying the Weight” event at Rutgers. 

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