Rebels Against Sexual Assault hosts discussion of Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’

Posted on Apr 25 2017 - 8:00am by Ke'ena Belk

Rebels Against Sexual Assault is hosting a discussion Wednesday night about the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and its relevance to students on campus.

The show explores themes of sexual assault and suicide over its 13 hour-long episodes. According to Netflix, the series tells the story of a teenage girl’s suicide through a series of tapes given to her classmates.

RASA, a student-run organization working to educate students about sexual misconduct and prevention methods, holds events year round to encourage discussion of sensitive topics and preventive measures.

According to RASA’s website, “sexual assault is an issue that has harmed many people on our campus, either they have experienced the trauma first-hand, or they have watched a loved one struggle with the harmful effects.”

Elizabeth Romary, the outreach and events coordinator and It’s On Us representative for RASA, said she is not impressed with “13 Reasons Why.”

“It is really important that we talk about mental health, suicide, sexual assault and how those can relate,” Romary said. “This show just doesn’t do a good job of talking about it.”

RASA provided statistics on sexual assault’s effect on college campuses. One out of five women between the ages of 18-24 will experience sexual assault or some type of attempted sexual assault in college. One out of 33 men will experience a form of sexual assault. More than 80 percent of these sexual assaults are never reported.

Romary said these are important issues on campus, and there are still many people that would rather not discuss them.

“This is a good way to continue with the conversations and to put it out there,” Romary said.

Kristin Howitt, RASA secretary, said she does not want the discussion to end after the event is over.

“This show taking off has gotten people talking about issues of self-harm, sexual assault, blame, suicide, bullying, mental health, sexuality and so much more,” Howitt said.

She said the discussion will not only educate people on preventing assault and raising awareness, but will also critique the show.

“Another reason for the event, is some of the ways the show portrays these issues are incorrect, biased or otherwise misleading,” Howitt said. “We want to clear up these misconceptions.”

The organization encourages those in attendance to come with an open mind and be prepared to not only learn, but also teach.

“We hope people bring up points we have not thought about and that leads to more open discussions on our campus,” Howitt said.

Howitt said she knows the subject is sensitive and may cause a world of reactions, but anyone is welcome to come and go at any point they feel necessary. Employees from the counseling center will attend, speaking to students individually if needed.

“Those in attendance can expect to have discussion about the themes in the show and how it is not a good representation of counseling, suicide or the subject of mental health,” Romary said. “We want to talk about resources available on campus, as well better way to address these issues.”

The conversation starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after RASA’s general meeting in the Croft Institute for International Studies.

“I hope people remember self-care when watching or discussing this show or the surrounding issues,” Howitt said.