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SGA and PEERS Host Clothing Drive for Sexual Assault Survivors

By Rachel Stevens

The Student Government Association (SGA) and Peer Educators Empowering Respectful Students (PEERS) came together to host a campus-wide clothing drive for the Network for Victim Recovery of DC from October 8-12. This month is dedicated to relationship violence awareness, by both of these student organizations. The drive was held in response to a controversial tweet sent out by the dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, Will C. Rainford, on Thursday September 27th.

This is the first time Catholic University has hosted this type of clothing drive. October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month, and this is one of the efforts to get the campus community involved in fighting against such heinous acts, especially in light of Rainford’s tweet.

The clothing donated will go directly to survivors of sexual assault after their clothing is taken to be examined when a rape kit is administered at Mtar Washington Hospital. The immediate need for clothing is something that is often easily overlooked when thinking about the process of helping a survivor, but very necessary and helpful.  

The campus community felt that the dean’s tweet showed a lack of sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault. Rainford was suspended by President of the University, John Garvey.

“Swetnick is 55 y/o. Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with by her admission, having sex with underage boys,” the tweet read.

“The tweets called into question the validity of some accusations of sexual assault made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Of deepest concern to me is that they demonstrated a lack of sensitivity to the victim,” Garvey said.

Jimmy Harrington, student body president, took it upon himself to draft a response to the tweet to console students who are both disturbed and angry about the events. In his statement, Harrington addressed that the current political climate is irrefutably tumultuous.

He touches on the tweet by the dean of NCSSS that, “is not reflective of the Catholic University community that I know and love.”

Harrington also took the opportunity to say that our campus community does not, “promote a culture of victim blaming and do support survivors of sexual assault.” His words were in clear opposition to the tweet and were well received by the campus community.

“As a senator I was very impressed by President Harrington’s response to the Dean of the NCSSS’ unfortunate tweet. The tweet does not reflect Catholic’s values as a University, values that the SGA executive’s initiative upholds by putting love into action and collecting clothing for survivors of sexual assault,” said Alexandra Kilgore, a senator that represents the sophomore class.

Both SGA and PEERS are hoping that this clothing drive sends a message of love and support to survivors.

Harrington would like to let the campus know that, “The outpouring of support from the Catholic University community for this event shows that we as a campus do, and always will, stand with survivors of sexual assault.”

The clothing drive was seen as successful and there were far more donations than anticipated. The hope is for SGA to work with other DC groups such as NVRDC to help fulfill their ne, whether that is through another clothing drive or a different event in the future.

While the event has now ended, PEERS is still raising awareness throughout the month of October to support survivors of any relationship or sexual violence. Beyond the month of October, there are always ways to make a difference in the life of a survivor. Our campus resources are always open for use. From the counseling center, to the office of the dean of students, there are multiple places to seek help. The toll free hotline for sexual assault is : 1-800-656-4673. They are available 24/7.