PC Students RISE Up: Students Work to Educate About Sexual Assault

by The Cowl Editor on November 1, 2018


Photo courtesy of twitter.com (@Breakthecycledv)

By Micaela Freeman ’20

Brianna O’Shaughnessy ’19 has decided to end her Providence College career with a statement by creating a new club on campus. 

The Massachusetts native has launched a club that brings awareness to sexual violence prevention. The new club that has made its debut at PC is called RISE, and has a much larger meaning than simply “rising” above sexual violence. Its acronym, RISE, stands for Reclaim-Inform-Support-Empower.

O’Shaughnessy is a management major and a political science minor, and is passionate about being both politically active as well as being an activist for what she believes in.

According to O’Shaughnessy, the club is for anyone who wants to help the PC community become more aware of and to prevent sexual assault. RISE also welcomes anyone who is a survivor of sexual assault and offers them the help they need to reclaim themselves and receive support.

“It is a peer education and action group around sexual assault prevention on campus and our goal is to make campus a safe place for all by really educating students on this topic as well as collaborating with the administration to put in place better protection policy,” O’Shaughnessy said.

For O’Shaughnessy, this all  began as a idea while studying abroad. O’Shaughnessy lived in a social justice house, and quickly learned that her roommates had groups such as RISE on their campuses.

O’Shaughnessy said that PC has a lot of clubs that create awareness for many topics such as LGBTQ+ and womens rights like, SHEPARD and Women Will, but there was not a club dedicated for sexual assault awareness.

“Everyone has their own version of peer advocacy,” O’Shaughnessy said. “So, I did some digging, and I believe it deserved its own space as a club to create this awareness.”

She said the work that has been done has been well worth it, and she looks forward to the rest of the year.

“Why not me, I thought. It’s silly to find something out like this, and then have someone else do it,” she said. “It just felt right, and made me feel like I was doing something for the PC community, and if I did it right, it’d have the impact needed for everyone.”

As the co-founder of the club, O’Shaughnessy said she turned to one of her best friends when looking for a partnership. Karen Thifault ’19, a sociology and women’s studies double major, has been an integral part of O’Shaughnessy’s club.

“She’s really passionate about this topic so obviously I turned to her first,” O’Shaughnessy said.

O’Shaughnessy also said that her main goal is to make this group an “education and action” group, through which myths behind sexual assault are eliminated and an open dialogue is created in the PC community. “The first step is educating,” said O’Shaughnessy.

Both Thifault and O’Shaughnessy believe that the newest addition to PC’s club roster will be impactful and fun for both themselves and the members.

“I think we can make a positive change on PC’s campus and I think going forward I don’t think there is a limit on how much work can be done,” said O’Shaughnessy.

RISE meets at 6 p.m. every Wednesday in Feinstein 203. At meetings, the club covers current events as well as talks and creates events that will help grow sexual assault awareness on campus.

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