Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center held its fifth annual Yes Means Fest on the Diag Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of bystander intervention and consent. The event was organized by SAPAC’s Bystander Intervention and Community Engagement volunteer program.
The event inspired conversations surrounding the problem of sexual violence on campus, and featured several student groups, musicians and artists in a series of performances. Proceeds from the event went toward SafeHouse Center, which supports people impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence.
LSA seniors Julia Berg and Bonnie Cheng, who served as co-coordinators of the BICE program, spoke about the event’s focus on the intersection of consent and bystander intervention.
“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we’ve already had SAPAC on the Diag, which was organized by (Consent, Outreach and Relationship Engagement) and was very primary prevention oriented,” Berg said. “We wanted to make sure that this was very distinct and more geared towards secondary prevention and bystander intervention.”
Yes Means Fest featured several student groups including Wolverine Support Network, Students for Choice, HeForShe, Expect Respect, SafeHouse and the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
Berg spoke further about how the event served as a way for student groups to raise awareness on the importance of bystander proactiveness and showcase how their specific organization could help people resolve related issues.
“In years past it’s been held in the Trotter Multicultural Center, but we really wanted to bring it to the Diag to just make it a bigger event that’s more accessible to people,” Berg said. “We wanted to bring out the community engagement aspect of BICE, so we wanted to partner with all these orgs and work with them.”
Cheng said holding the event on the Diag also allowed them to expand the range of people hearing their message.
“Because we’re on the Diag, people just walk by, and they might not normally be exposed to this sort of education, like what bystander intervention is,” Cheng said. “So, the fact that they’re able to engage as they’re walking to the library just adds an extra dimension to this conversation because we’re able to involve them.”
Rackham student April Wei also mentioned the impact of the event’s increased visibility.
“I think this is an important subject for people to talk about, and I wanted to come here and see what was going on and how people were talking about these issues,” Wei said. “Events like these help increase awareness, and having them in such a visible place like the Diag affects how people think about the topic.”
LSA senior Gabriella Lanzi represented OSCR at the event and reiterated the importance of bringing together different groups and resources together.
“Generally we do conflict resolution and restorative justice work … that all ties back to fostering healthy relationships on campus and communication, and understanding the underlying importance of consent,” Lanzi said. “It’s really cool to see all these different organizations here. I think getting folks together with resources and supporting those resources helps increase visibility and shows students what options are available to them.”
LSA senior Gabe Colman, who was representing Expect Respect, agreed with Lanzi’s sentiment, adding this kind of activism would have lasting effects on the U-M campus.
“We’re here to support what SAPAC is doing,” Colman said. “I think all of these tables here are doing really important work, and without this kind of work we wouldn’t have a safe and inclusive campus environment. I think the fact that SAPAC gathered student groups and even non-student groups like SafeHouse just goes to show that a lot of different organizations are really committed to making this campus safe and inclusive for everyone.”