By Maddie Neiman, Managing Editor
This Thursday, Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) and Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) partnered to host the event “My Costume, My Choice: Trick-or-Treating in a Body Positive and Sex Positive Way” from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Junction.
HerCampus, German House/Club, Sigma Chi, Black Student Union (BSU), RISE House, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Student Patrol Officers, and Prism (formerly known as Outerspace) sponsored the event; each organization decorated and held a table at which students could trick-or-treat for candy and chat about “positive support and awareness of body and sex positivity,” according to the event’s Student Digest advertisement. Costumes were encouraged, and students came dressed as Harry Potter, Olaf from Frozen, and more.
“We want to start an engaging conversation about how Halloween can be a positive influence on sex positivity and body positivity,” SASA member Julia Burgess ‘20 said.
“My Costume, My Choice” represents the first major campus event led by SASA co-presidents Camille Traczek ‘22 and Sydney Kaplan ‘22. Both expressed their gratitude at the “great response” from the sponsoring student organizations, and Traczek stated that she was especially thankful that Alpha Chi Rho and Sigma Chi, as social fraternities, wanted to participate in the conversation.
According to Traczek, the planning for the event began after Alpha Chi Rho approached SASA about wanting to work together. Alpha Chi Rho brother Paul Mogianesi ‘21 explained that his fraternity had hoped to co-host an event with SASA to promote education and awareness regarding the conversation surrounding sex and body positivity.
“What better time than Halloween?” Mogianesi said.
Like Traczek and Kaplan, Mogianesi added, “I’m very proud and thankful for all the organizations that came out.”
Emma Schilling ‘21 of German House/Club also stated that the event offered “a good interaction between different clubs.”
As a trick-or-treater approached the German House/Club table, member Sophia Gravenstein ‘22 asked, “How do clothes make you feel empowered?” and listened to the student’s response before handing them a piece of candy.
Members of HerCampus who were also present at the event reiterated this interest in empowerment — namely, “how women can empower and support other women at Halloween,” which includes avoiding slut-shaming and cultural appropriation, HerCampus member Adrienne Poissant ‘22 said.
Black Student Union members Dominique Taylor ‘22 and Maliyah Peacock ‘22 were similarly concerned about offensive acts of cultural appropriation that often occur on Halloween, such as blackface.
“A lot of times, black women are fantasized. We want to be in control of our bodies,” Peacock said, adding that this affects “black men, as well.”
For RISE House member Grace Verbrugge ‘22, the event represented the importance of “creating a safe space for everyone to enjoy Halloween.” She added that the notion of “showing respect for fellow students” is a key value of RISE House.
According to High Garst ‘20, Sigma Chi — a social organization with a house on campus — recognizes the importance of having a safe space and understands their own responsibility in maintaining such an environment, especially regarding the prevalence of Greek Life-related sexual assault on campus.
“Sigma Chi is committed to creating a safe experience for students, for everyone,” Garst said, adding that this commitment makes him proud to be part of his fraternity.
Alpha Chi Rho brothers also expressed an interest in fraternities’ relationship to the evening’s conversation. Next to a bowl of candy on their table, Alpha Chi Rho brothers positioned a PowerPoint with a title slide reading, “How can greek life members promote a more open and body positive environment on campus?”
Educational materials were similarly utilized by other organizations, such as RISE House, which presented a poster board titled, “Respect & Halloween.” According to Verbrugge, Halloween can often be a “tricky time” for everyone to feel that they and their bodies are safe and respected.
Lindsey Ukishima ‘20 of Prism (formerly known as Outerspace) noted that “Halloween can be a very important time for the trans and nonbinary community,” given a person’s freedom to dress in the way that they want during Halloween.
“It’s important to support everybody no matter what they wear,” Ukishima said.
Next to Prism’s table, DPS Student Patrol Officers also offered students candy and support.
“We want to let students know we’re here for them,” Student Officer Erick Cabrera ‘21 said, noting that he wants students to know “that they’d have someone to go to talk to.”
Student Patrol Officer Alyssa Miller ‘23 added that DPS wants students “to know that they have a voice to be heard.”
A combination of awareness, empowerment, respect, safety, and support characterized the evening’s trick-or-treating and added to the body and sex positivity conversation around which the event was created.