Denim Day Raises Rape Awareness
College students from four local universities are putting on a Denim Day on Thursday to raise awareness for victims of rape.
The denim idea stems from an Italian case where a man was found not guilty of rape because the accuser's jeans were so tight he couldn't have pulled them off without her help. Women in the Italian parliament wore denim to show their outrage. The denim represents solidarity with victims of those crimes.
In Columbia, MU's Textile and Apparel Management students held their first Denim Day on Thursday at Lowry Mall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., passing out information about rape awareness in the form of pins, bookmarks and flyers.
The Department of Health and Senior Services contacted the Textile and Apparel Management students in September of 2006 to see if they wanted to make Denim Day a cumpus-wide event. The organizers hope the event gets people talking about a normally hush-hush subject.
"We just want to make sure people are aware bad things can happen and if something does happen, it's not like you have to hide it away; that you can come out and talk to people, that there are people to talk to," said Megan Mitchem, a student chair of Denim Day. "There are numbers to call, there are organizations to go to, both on the MU campus and in the community."
Mandy Weiss, 20, is the Co-Chair of the event and said the club immediately got started preparing for the event.
"Our computer aided design class designed a pin with the help of Maureen Simones, who designed the logo. Tomorrow the pins will be handed out with a card attached that includes the history of Denim Day on them," said Weiss. "The cards will also contain the meaning of the pin, which is that jeans symbolize the importance of survivors to move on."
The pins were taken to other local college campuses that are participating in the event, and today, members of the Association of Textile and Apparel Management club along with other organizations will be handing out flyers to students and anyone who walks by. Weiss and Mitchem are both very confident about the turnout for today's event.
"It's going to be hard not to notice us, we have about 20 tables set up and 17 organizations that will be there with us outside of Lowery Mall. If it rains, we will be inside Brady Commons," said Mitchem.
"We plan on just really getting the message out there, whether its giving someone a pin or someone just seeing it as they walk by," said Weiss.
Overall, the point of today's Denim Day awareness is to spread the news and information about rape, sexual assault, and how to prevent it. News has recently spread to Jefferson City, where Governor Matt Blunt declared April 26th as Missouri's official Denim Day.
"What we're trying to do is make sure that people know if something negative does happen, there are people to talk to," said Mitchem. "We also want people to know how to not put themselves in a situation that would have a negative outcome."
On a college campus, it's something that's not talked about as much as it should be," said Weiss. "We are working to get information out there to help at least one person, and that can make a difference."
With contributions from Courtney Schroeder.