Community, consent and conversation

The Little Black Dress Doesn’t Mean Yes event is on track to have another successful year of starting conversations about sexual assault, consent and respect.

The name of the event was created around the idea that an outfit doesn’t imply consent. Conversations at the event will include discussion about sexual consent, sexual assault and domestic violence in the community and specifically college campuses. A panel made up of community and UAA members will give insight, advice, share personal experiences and answer some questions afterward. The panel is a diverse group of individuals with different identities and viewpoints.

“Hearing the different perspectives of the panelists is very important and that’s why we’re strategic for who we choose for this event because each person has a different background and identity and it’s important to address sexual assault and consent using that lens,” Quacyyc Cuaresma, USUAA’s chief activities officer, said.  

Cuaresma and USUAA have been working on preparing this event for nearly a month. This year’s event includes the panel, a social mixer, free dinner — pizza, mocktails, salad and cookies — and a few rounds of Sexy Jeopardy, hosted by peer health educators from UAA’s Student Health and Counseling Center.

“We just want to foster a welcoming conversation about this issue in a very interactive way,” Cuaresma said. “It’s not only very informative and people will learn from it, they’ll have fun doing it and I think that’s important especially since it is an uncomfortable thing topic to talk about.”

This is the fourth year that Little Black Dress has been an annual event at UAA. The event, though hosted by USUAA, is co-sponsored by different organizations and student clubs, including sororities Sigma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Alpha, Interfraternity Council, Student Activities and Commuter Programs and the Student Health and Counseling Center. Tabling at the event includes other student clubs and community businesses and organizations like Standing Together Against Rape and Drag+.

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“Events like Little Black Dress provide exceptional opportunities for our members to empower themselves and others,” Brooke Badura, Sigma Sigma Sigma’s vice president of operations, said “It is really heartwarming to see the men — not only fraternity members — that show up and actively support the event … It makes me feel like we are making progress in opening up the conversation about sexual assault.”

Cuaresma, who is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, mentioned that she likes the Greek Life presence at the event due to the stigma around sexual assault in Greek Life on college campuses around the U.S.

Women are encouraged to wear a black dress and men are encouraged to dress semi-formal for the night.

Little Black Dress Doesn’t Mean Yes is held in the Student Union cafeteria on Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 6:30-8 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the public.

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