Student org spotlight: SAPT


An image from last year’s flag display on Commons Lawn. The Sexual Assault Prevention Team hosted another flag display this year on April 19. Photo courtesy Sexual Assault Prevention Team.

The Sexual Assault Prevention Team is a group that openly recognizes the reality of sexual assault at Calvin and refuses to be silent about it. SAPT opens dialogue focusing on the issue of sexual assault, with the goal of raising awareness, educating the community and providing support for victims.

This organization, made up of both students and faculty, seeks to fill the conversational gap they see regarding sexual assault at Calvin.

SAPT student leader Carmela Sleva said, “If we didn’t have something like SAPT, we simply would not talk about it.”

Along with weekly meetings, the group organizes several larger events each year, particularly during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Events include bringing in speakers, leading chapel and dorm worship services and arranging the annual sexual assault awareness flag event, which is held on Commons Lawn each April. New this month was an informational event called Fear 2 Freedom, which focused on raising awareness and calling the Calvin community to committed action against the prevalence of sexual assault.

Through all of these events and the year-round planning involved, SAPT seeks to ensure that the issue of sexual assault is not ignored on campus.

Student leader Eleanor Vander Ark said, “We want to be an active presence, so people know that we care and that work is being done.” While this expression of care certainly includes and requires an active support for victims, it does not stop there. It is also aimed toward the improvement of the community as a whole through education and preventative action.

Student leader Sarah Bass said the group’s goal is to “remove misconceptions” surrounding sexual assault and to “educate people so they can look out for others.” The open dialogue and atmosphere of support which SAPT seeks to cultivate is meant to better the Calvin community by engendering a culture that seeks positive change and growth in response to the pervasiveness of sexual assault. This change is meant to be holistic, reshaping people’s perceptions, attitudes and actions regarding sexual assault.

Vander Ark summarized the group’s mission in three words: “awareness, support, prevention.” By making the community aware of the reality and severity of sexual assault, seeking ways to support those affected in such a way that avoids victim-blaming and calls the community to take committed action, SAPT is working to make Calvin a better, safer place for everyone.

SAPT meets every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the philosophy conference room. Anyone interested in being involved is welcome to attend a meeting. Additional information, resources and links to relevant events can be found on their Facebook page.