Reminders from the Universe

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in life, in the way it makes you feel or overwhelms you. And I’ll be honest, I have those pestering thoughts about where I’m taking my life. I worry that I burn so brightly that I’ll burn out and be of no help to anybody. And I thought about what I might do if I walked away from everything-from justice, from law, from my home and just started over some way. I think that you think about that a lot when you have depression or anxiety or whatever. Just starting over. Taking the knowledge you had and using it to make better choices. But to that effect, I offer a quote:

“But then I wondered how I’d feel… Would I feel relieved or would I feel sad? And then I realized how many stupid times a day I use the word “I”. And Probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s like seven billion other people out there on the planet…But then I thought, if I cared about the other seven billion out there, instead of just me, that’s probably a much better use of my time.” -Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

And in the grogg of all that, a news story came across my FB feed. Now, before you roll your eyes, let me just say that I don’t take things at face (lol pun!) value-I investigate. So when I saw the article, I left Facebook and began my search. It was like getting punched in the face. 

If you search “16 year old received no jail time”, there comes a list of stories that aren’t for the faint hearted. They range from racial bias to toddlers to every manner of monster available. And that was when I stopped thinking about myself for a minute. I detached as much as I could and just thought. No amount of me feeling sorry for myself or scared of what the future holds makes any difference. I know that what I want is difficult and scary and it means that I need to be able to hold my own at all times-even in the worst of my bad days. Why?

Because if I don’t keep burning brightly, how will these problems be illuminated? If I don’t keep speaking up, who will speak for the children who can’t, for the people who are scared? They deserve their justice, their safety-just as much as I do. And if no one will help them, I will.

I force myself to read each news story that comes across my feeds. I read them and I burn a little brighter, a little stronger. I don’t know if that’s good or bad-but as far as I can tell, it’s how it has to be. Why? Because this cannot be. There are judges across the country who aren’t holding up the law. They’re letting criminals of the worst kind fall between the cracks. I can’t sit by, in my fear and worry while the last stronghold of justice fails.

And that’s why no matter how scared I am, no matter how frustrated and tired I will become, I have to keep fighting. If not for me, for the people who need me and for the future. So stay tuned for a blog in the future where I tell you which law school I will be attending.

My Statement of Purpose

I said I’d let you all read my law school application’s statement of purpose once I’d sent it out and heard back from the schools. And that is true-mostly. As I write today, I have only heard from half of them, but I’ve got one no and one yes! No matter what, I’m off to law school in the fall. So I am here to provide you with my very own, one of a kind, successful SOP. I modified it for different schools by clarifying the programs and whatnot, but this is the one I got in on.

powerful-statement-of-purpose

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I’m an individual with opinions, aspirations and flaws, for which I offer no apology. Of the facets of my personality, fandom presents a unique outlet conducive to my lifestyle choices. What began as casual consumption of fictional realms and revolutionary ideas rapidly refocused into philosophical pondering over gender norms and fan theory. I am determined to spend my life as a crossover between Les Misérables, Supernatural and Daredevil.

Our country was set up with the ideals of justice and freedom at the core. I believe that to be true not just for the majorities, but for each of the minorities as well. I helped organize protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Columbus, Ohio because I see the actions of that company to be against the values of equality. Sacred and treaty lands are not something that should be impacted just because of business. I also have been quite vocal about justice for rape and sexual assault victims, engaging with others through petitions to government and protests against unjust rulings. Just as Enjolras in Les Misérables, I do not intend to remain silent at the injustices I see, especially when I have the capacity to enact change. I refuse to be silenced, my passion will only be raised.

Building lasting connections with people is not only how the human species has remained a persistent force on our planet, it’s how we find meaning in our work. I have a network of support at The Ohio State University which I find invaluable, who have aided me in narrowing the scope of projects, degrees and law schools to pursue my muses. These connections are vital in my work as a social justice writer, both in my blog, where the focus is on sexual assault survivor advocacy, and on my work through The Mighty, where I contribute writings about mental health and suicide. I started writing about these issues both out of personal experience, but also because of my growing appreciation of Supernatural. The show in and of itself is an extensive metaphor for mental illness, sexual assault and many other harrowing issues under the guise of demons and monsters. I know how important it is to always keep fighting for the greater good, and helping other people along in that journey. Dean Winchester, a main character, was saved from death with the understanding that he had work to do. So too, do I feel strongly convicted about my purpose in life.

Of all of the Marvel superheroes, Daredevil was my favorite male character-well before I knew I wanted to go to law school. Matt Murdock engaged his clients with a dedicated compassion, and not only did he stay dedicated to the need for law and order, the same level of tenacity he showed in his studies before his accident, he continued to maintain after he was blinded. In a proposal I gave to The Ohio State University, I chose to take a stand for victims of sexual assault by educating students about risks, but also by providing gender inclusive actions post-trauma. Instead of furthering the victim-blaming rape culture, I provided a course of action which refocused the blame onto the attackers and sought help for the victims. I will carry this project and it’s ideals with me to law school, where I will continue to work with administrators and educators to ensure a safer future for all people-regardless of demographic.

I take pride in being a well-rounded, open minded millennial member of several minorities. I voted in an election where there were two female candidates for President of the United States of America-something that just a hundred years ago would have been inconceivable. I spend my spare time officiating and planning weddings, amongst which I count the marriage of my brother to my new sister-in-law. I market myself as completely inclusive in thought, offering my services not only to the traditional couples but to anyone who wants to engage in a union with someone they love. I use my title to promote equality and unity, because that is something I believe is going to be an asset in the future of the world. Building on my ministerial duties and privileges, I am attending conferences about how to enter politics-something I had not even considered until I educated myself on the policies I voted for in the general election.

I’m going to use my law degree to become a district attorney. In my research of sexual assault, the numbers are overwhelmingly clear that the two demographics which need attention most are LGBT individuals and Native American women. The path to ending rape culture, for me, means that I graduate from law school with experience in criminal prosecution and social inequality, practice as a prosecuting attorney while I build my rapport with the people in the community and then further my reach as district attorney. In order to do this, I simply have to be myself and continue building on the foundation I laid in undergrad.

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So, class of 2020-here I come! And when I cross that stage to pick up my diploma, you can bet I’ve already got plans. Happy weekend everyone!

FADA (And why it matters)

Apart from the “Luke, I am your fada” jokes, there’s nothing funny about House Bill 2802 (also known as FADA). This bill is titled the First Amendment Defense Act. And in order to figure out what it’s talking about, we need to do a little background investigation.

The First Amendment: Seems we hear a lot about this one, even though it’s not usually quoted. This is your run of the mill Constitutional Rights Amendment, and I’m going to quote it. We need to be able to work from the original to boil it down for use today. I’m adding in the numbers to help us break it down later.

“Congress shall make (1)no law respecting an establishment of religion, or (2)prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or (3)abridging the freedom of speech, or (4)of the press; or (5)the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and (6)to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s a big one, no? My teachers would have penalized me for a run-on if I’d come in with something like that, but I digress. Numbers 1 and 2 are at the heart of HR 2802, but the others are important. Freedom of speech has had a lot of issues lately with interpretation. And I know I struggle with it too. Because I don’t believe people should be allowed to believe that other people are inferior on the basis of their skin color, nationality or sexual orientation. I think that’s racist and sexist amongst other things and that’s not okay. But just as someone cannot force me to believe that racism is okay, I can’t force people to believe that it’s not. I can attempt to persuade, but it is their right to believe so. (Not to act on it though, because hate crimes=jail times!) Freedom of press has been up for debate as well, with “leaks” and “false news” and propoganda and a dictator-elect (see-that’s freedom of speech) who has mentioned he’d shut down some presses for being mean to him (that is infringement of number 4). Assembly is debated heavily from BLM (Black Lives Matter) to Women’s Rights to Not My President. One exceptionally racist, ignorant individual can be seen ranting about protesting on her show. (I’m of course talking about Tomi Lahren.) And number 6? Well, I like number 6. I engage in it all the time. I petitioned for NoDAPL, I petitioned for my rights as a woman, I petitioned for recounts. I petition for lots of stuff-and the first one I did was in 6th grade against spirit bands (ask me about that-I have some wild stories).

So 1 and 2. No government control of religion and no stopping someone from being religious the way they choose. Sounds solid enough to me. So why do we have FADA?

The first line of the bill says “To prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage.”

Oh.

Does this bring up memories of a court clerk who went to jail for not doing her job and handing out marriage licenses? Because it should. Quickly, Kim Davis refused a gay couple a marriage license saying she was acting under “God’s authority”. She went to jail, was told to just do her job, and of course didn’t. We have the Marriage Equality Act which states: Marriage is defined as a legal union between two people as spouses.

So let’s look at HR2802. The First Section is just the “short title” which is what I told you in my first paragraph.

The second section is the “Findings”. Now, I can’t imagine everyone who reads my blog is going to  want to read the document (even though it’s only 7 pages with large font). If you’d like to click HERE. I linked straight to the .pdf so there’s that. Anyway. The findings section is pretty generic. It talks about marriage equality and religious liberty are sometimes at odds, the President knew it would be something that needed worked out. The Solicitor General discussed tax status for religious schools needing to be addressed. Paragraph 4 talks about the government needing to remain neutral when it came to religious rights, not picking one over others. Paragraph 5 talks about protecting religious rights will lead to tolerance and contribute to peace.

Hold on.

I have 2 problems so far, and we’re on page 3. First: who are these “leading legal scholars”? You don’t give me names, you don’t give me universities or institutions or positions. You’re not telling me who weighed in. For all I know, it could have been the most anti-LGBT, anti-human rights community of lawyers (*cough* Alliance Defending Freedom *cough*). And what does it take to be a leading legal scholar? I read loads of cases, do these breakdowns. If I call myself a leading legal scholar, can I start weighing in? Until names get released and the public can do internet background checks, I remain unconvinced of the legitimacy of this already.

My second problem is found in paragraph 5. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like for it to be true. Because I would. But we have religious freedom right now. I can freely be pagan all the live long day and no one can stop me. I could convert to Judaism tomorrow and no one could stop me. And do you know what I see? I see groups like Westboro taking that liberty to the extreme. I see the KKK abusing that liberty. I see hate spewed from religious groups to religious groups just the same as I see acceptance (although I have to dig harder for news stories about acceptance). The thing is, religious freedom doesn’t mean the same to everyone. Religious freedom, to me for example, means that I don’t have to be afraid to wear my religious jewelry outside, or go to a pagan supply shop and not get harassed. Religious freedom for other people means something along the lines of “adhere to my religious beliefs without making me uncomfortable”. My high school set out on a foolish endeavor to sue the Department of Education because they wouldn’t let a little girl use the restroom simply because her Ohio birth certificate still said “male” (you can’t change it in Ohio if you’re a trans person). They lost that case, with the judge telling them to let her be the “little girl she is”. I can’t tell you the amount of people who flipped out, saying she was a pedophile and feared for their children’s safety. That little girl by the way, is in elementary school. Third grade, I think. 

Section 3a. No (discriminatory) action will be taken against someone who is acting according to their religious beliefs.

Section 3b. Discriminatory is defined as: altering tax treatment, not allow tax deductions to charities, withholding government money and grants, withhold government benefits, otherwise discriminate (that’s what it says).

Section 3c. You can’t be denied a licensure or certification based on your behavior if you are acting in accordance to religious beliefs you hold in respect to marriages or sexual relations that are reserved for marriage. (It says specifically one man, one woman.)

Section 4-A person can assert actual or threatened violation and be awarded compensation, even if the person didn’t seek administrative remedies. 

Section 5-This is meant to be a broad protection, not meaning to conflict with other laws, with the written in section about how if one portion of this bill is deemed unconstitutional, the rest of it will remain intact.

Alrighty. Seven pages later and where are we? Confused? Frustrated? Furious?

As someone who was Christian for half of their life and then pagan the latter half, this worries me. I don’t need to go through my credentials to prove that I’m telling the truth, but as a human being, this worries me. Section 3a is already happening. In Mississippi this past year, a landlord kicked an interracial couple out of their homes because of his religious beliefs. He is quoted to have said : “Oh, it’s a big problem with the members of my church.”  Section 3b means that the Salvation Army can continue to deny help to LGBTQ individuals who need it without facing repercussions. Section 3c means people like Kim Davis can continue to deny marriage licenses-even though it is a federally guaranteed right to all people of legal, consenting age regardless of orientation or gender. Section 4 means even the words I am writing today, can be used to prove I infringed on someone’s religious rights. Section 5 means that if passed, Congress will need to revoke the ENTIRE amendment in order to remove it from doing more harm. Do you know how hard that is? Exceptionally.


So why do I bring this up? I’m a woman (as self-defined) and I married hetero. We’re both white, both American. So is this an issue for me?

It’s an issue for everyone. I’m a member of the LGBTQ community-and marrying hetero did not change that. My husband and I are not self-proclaimed Christians, so we belong to religious minorities by default (even though I’m technically the only religious one of us).

I’m also an ordained minister. I perform weddings, plan weddings (yep, have that certificate too) and I do that for ALL people who want to be married to each other (and are legally allowed to be). Interracial couples? Yep. Interfaith couples? Yep. Same-sex couples? Yep. No sex couples? Yep. No faith couples? Yep. I think you get the picture. 

Look, I know I’m not the representative for anyone more than myself. I get it. But as someone who is trying to make a life in the world, as someone who is trying to make sure that people feel safe being themselves, who have rights and equality, I’m just asking for other people to look beyond their insecurities, their biases, their stubbornness and try to see the life of someone else. Try to imagine (or ask them!) what it’s like to feel disenfranchised by their own people. And then ask yourself if you’re actually being infringed upon at all. Because you can’t control other people. You can only control yourself. Being kind doesn’t kill anybody and it makes the world suck a little less.

So this is my last blog of the year. I hope you all stay safe for the last day of 2016. I’ll be watching it go out like I watch every year-with the difference being that this new year, I’m preparing for a revolution.

Waiting on Superman

I really adore superhero(ine) movies. I enjoy the comics, I enjoy the messaging, I enjoy it as a fan who simply wants to be transported to a different place for a little while. I love that the hero(ine)s have dark pasts, tragic events and things that make them relatable. I also happen to enjoy Disney Villains (especially Maleficent and Ursula) and I do quite like Star Wars and Star Trek with equal measure. I belong to as many fandoms as I can (although none so much as Supernatural, Sherlock, iZombie, Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). And do you know what? All of this has one simple thing in common.

Almost none of the protagonists believed they were “the chosen one”.

So, before we get into this, no-I’m not in the middle of a serious delusion. Seriously. Let me tell you the story.

When I was asked the first time what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said mortician. I was told that was improper for a lady (by the teacher). When asked again, I said doctor. No one ever asked past that-until I asked myself. And when doctor just didn’t fit, I toyed around with a LOT of other ideas. Nurse. Wedding Planner. Phlebotomist. Social Worker. And then I found anthropology. And I LOVED it! But I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I was stuck in the “swamp” for a while-where you just want to do all of the types of anthropology. Then I leaned cultural. I wanted to study religions and the occult and spirituality. But could I get a job in that? So I shifted to religious intolerance and hate crimes and religious terrorism. Surely that would be a useful career! But I wasn’t quite set on it. It just didn’t “fit”. And so I kept looking for the thing. It was quite like finding an academic soul mate. And then I fell upon law and rape prosecution.

I’ve applied to law schools. I’m trying to make my life. And it’s hard and scary-and I haven’t even heard from my schools yet. But you know what I keep thinking?

Am I even cut out for this?

I read cases pretty regularly. I think the cookies in my browser history just knows I’m going to want to follow cases and it finds them for me. And I read them with integrity. I read them, I research them and then I cry. I ugly cry, scream into my pillow and mourn the loss of humanity. It breaks me so much. I fall asleep with puffy eyes and wake up exhausted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked it over with my husband. And now, I shall trust you all with my secret.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I will lose my cases and have to look my clients in their eyes and tell them I did my best without being able to give them justice. I’m afraid I will cry in the courtroom because I am so emotionally attached to my cause that it’s all personal for me. I’m afraid that I will wake up one day, after crying myself to sleep and realize that I can’t face any more clients or judges or courtrooms because hearing one more “Not Guilty” will do me in. I’m afraid that I won’t be good at it. 

But get this.

Every now and again, when I wake up after a particularly brutal article, I feel it. I feel the revolution. I feel the change in my brain that says “Hey. You don’t have to be perfect. But if no one stands up, nothing will ever change. What if the person we’re all waiting to stand up is you?” And I look at the fictional characters that I relate to most. Sam and Dean Winchester. General Organa. Buffy Summers. I see them given an impossibly frustrating task-one that they don’t feel qualified to handle and they feel overwhelmed and hopeless. I look at the characters who struggle with themselves. Liv Moore. Anna Marie (Rogue). Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Castiel. I see them fighting their own identities, trying to figure out why their lives are the way they are. I look at stories that split the line between misunderstood and wrongly judged. Maleficent. Prue Halliwell. Captain Janeway. I see people who had terrible things happen that forced them to react.

I wrote my personal statement for law school over heroes. As soon as I hear one way or another, I’ll post my Personal Statement here, because I’m actually kinda proud of it. It’s something I need to keep looking over. In it, I referenced Les Miserables, Supernatural and Daredevil. I spoke of Enjolras standing up for what was right, Dean Winchester’s redemption and Matt Murdock’s humanity. The story lines that spoke to me most about being brave, even when you’re afraid.

The great thing about superhero(ine) stories is that they apply to you whether you’re dealing with a bully, you’re fighting your own inner demons, you’re focused on saving the world. Uncle Ben’s words are still as true today as they were the first time they were printed: “With great privilege comes great responsibility.”

So no. I don’t feel like I can do this. I feel overwhelmed and terrified. I feel hopeless and insignificant. And that’s exactly why I have to keep trying.

What Comes Next

In response to the events of the recent past, I have no more words-I have said what I needed to, and the extent of my voice has been used. What comes next? Actions. For too long, I have been behind the scenes planning and debating and thinking. I wallowed in my defeats and I am prepared to start the good fight (or rather, continue it more actively). I can’t say it’s a surprise, but I’d like to pop away for a moment from politics and do what I do best-speak from the heart about issues important to me.

I applied to law school today. My applications are finished, and my letter of rec providers have been notified and I’m preparing for my LSAT in just three weeks. I debated long and hard about whether or not being a sexual assault/rape prosecutor would still be a viable job option for me and ultimately I decide yes.

The need for a compassionate, justice driven lawyer who actively works to better the lives of victims has never been more necessary. I have not changed-I still want to help people who have experienced the depravity of the human condition and I know that it’s something I am uniquely qualified to do. So I will-and I will do so most fervently.

There is one more way I can help-and it’s something I’m going to actively pursue for the time being, to see where it leads me and that’s politics. I’m not going to make this all about me just yet-but I’ll keep you informed. I’m going to be 25 next year, which puts me right in the prime zone for House Of Representatives in the midterms. But as I said, more on that later.

Bill Cosby believes that he will return to his career after his case is over. A picture of Taylor Swift was leaked in connection with her sexual assault case. Donald Trump’s case was dropped. DePaul University saw an increase in sexual assault crimes this week. My own university saw an increase in hate crimes. And the list, quite literally, goes on.

But you know what? I’ve seen incredible kindnesses this week as well. I saw friends gathering together to keep each other safe, I saw (and was involved in) several hugs with strangers (with consent to hug, of course!) and I know that there are good people out there.

I wanted to do a full report over the cases like I usually do-but I’m still not done talking about love and acceptance. It’s what the world needs right now-it’s what I need right now-and I hope that wherever you are, you find a little piece of hope as well.

I’ve lost family members over this election. I have friends who were disowned over this election. Trust me, I understand. I’m in the boat with you, and all I’m asking is that we not let this boat sink.

Love and light, people. For the night is dark and full of terrors.

IMADTTO: The Conclusion

Hi folks.

Last night I received word on the President’s Prize, the project I’ve poured my heart and soul into for these past few months. I set out to combat rape culture on college campuses and in the end, it was decided that my project (for whatever reason) was not up to the level that my university wanted and therefore was rejected. I spent last night at somewhat of a loss. I believed in my project, it was the very first thing I put my whole self into and I received a very short “There were so many wonderful applicants, but unfortunately you will not be continuing on.” email and I debated what to do as my next step.

I decided that I wanted to share what I’d done with you all, so that you might know what I’d spent so much time working on, but also to use as a way to put some accountability on my university. I hope they do incorporate some of my ideas-because my pride is far less important than the safety of women everywhere. But if these ideas come into use, I hope they put them to action with as much devotion as I would have-because for them it’s just policy, for me it’s an entire life’s worth of passion. I’m only going to put the second round project proposal, because it is the most complete-but there were many other drafts, and additional pieces of work that needed to be included in the process of review.

I invite critiques and thoughts-because, as I said, this is something I’m devoting my whole life to-and am applying to law school for- so making this project better and better can only help me enact it in the courtroom.

I have to deal with losses as a lawyer, with grace and humility. I don’t want to lose, nor do I like it, but I am human and it very well may happen. I’m doing the best I can to plug forward, shake it off and carry on. My pride is wounded, but my compassion and drive are not. (Oh, and I changed the logo colors to Sexual Assault Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness colors-a change I am very happy with.)

tl;dr: I’m placing my project proposal on my blog so that I can use it as a platform to save the world in a different route: my own self.

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell President’s Prize Project Statement

IMaDtTO Logo for Future.png
Project Title: IMADTTO (I Made A Difference To That One)

Problem Statement:

          Rape culture on college campuses is a social pandemic which needs to be addressed and eradicated. There are three target areas that I seek to focus on as key elements in the fight against rape culture: prevention, prosecution of crime and response to survivors. These elements are broken into sections of action that IMADTTO addresses as research, outreach, education and advocacy.

I maintain a blog on WordPress which, to the best of my abilities, I use to further stories of perceived injustices-focusing on rape culture. I use the critical thinking skills I have cultivated to seek out the legislation, proposed bills and the stories themselves so that I may present the facts. I also use that blog to discuss ideas for the improvement of society in respect to rape culture. I have opened the conversation to my readers and subscribers to tell me their ideas and stories. Since I have done so, it has been made abundantly clear to me that survivors of sexual assault desire to have their stories heard by someone who shows them respect and believes them at face value.

I have been approached by friends I have known for years, by family members and by complete strangers alike and asked if I could just listen to them. Among their stories, a vein of similarity popped up repeatedly: the need for gender inclusive education (whereby the message of body safety and awareness was given to all young adults), the need for a safe space to talk about their experiences and the need to be believed. It is these three suggestions from which IMADTTO came into existence, and will excel. The stark need for a program like IMADTTO is highlighted by the cases of Brock Allen Turner (Stanford University) and the Steubenville rape in 2012.

This project will positively affect everyone. The students are the target audience-both at a collegiate and high school level. By increasing body positivity and safety, young adults will be prepared to enter a world where they understand their rights, are fully capable of protecting themselves and are aware of what resources are available to them should they encounter an unsafe situation. On a slightly larger scale, this project will be beneficial to the parents of college-aged children by giving them the peace of mind that their children will be attending a college which is prepared to protect its students.

Ohio State will benefit from admissions increases, emerging as a leader in student safety and body positivity. Ohio State will serve as the role model for how rape culture on college campuses can be combatted. This commitment ripples through the national and global level, because Ohio State is rich in diversity and what student learn while attending will provide them the opportunity to be ambassadors to their home states and countries.

Project Outline and Timeline:

IMADTTO operates at four specific sections: research, outreach, education and advocacy. For each of these sections, individual tasks have been allocated. The research section will initiate the project. A survey will be created to assess potential problem areas on campus, the individual’s knowledge of available resources for the issue of sexual assault, responses to stigma and pop culture rape culture, as well as gauge their interest in a support group for survivors of sexual assault. This survey will serve as the basis for my own research (in accordance with IRB). This section will also include creating a compendium of resources available across the state to be used as part of the education and outreach sections. The research conducted in this section will be used to present at the latter two conferences I will attend.
Education will focus on the themes of body safety and body positivity. Under this category, a website and mobile application will be created in order to disseminate the information gathered in the “Research”. This will include a map of the areas deemed “issue” (that is to say, where students felt needed extra precaution when using) areas, the compendium of resources, links to news articles and legislation about sexual assault and rape culture, as well as important information such as basic self-defense tips. This information will be dispersed at twenty-five (25) high schools, as well as talks at each of the five (5) branch campuses, plus main campus. How to duplicate this project at other universities will be made available on the website as well.
The capstone for this section is the introduction of a sexual assault learning module in the Freshman Survey course, and a discussion for the parents at Freshman Orientation. The learning module will be a condensed, statistical exploration of rape culture and sexual assault that will be inserted into the pre-existing Freshman Survey course. The Freshman Orientation discussion with parents will be an introduction to the ways in which Ohio State is looking out for its students, including how a perpetrator will be dealt with. This creates accountability between Ohio State and the parents to ensure that all students are protected and informed.
Outreach focuses on publications. A newsletter featuring words of hope, self-care, the stories of survivors, and thoughts from professionals (such as nurses, social workers and police officers) will be created and distributed in both print and virtual format. This newsletter will also include progress reports for IMADTTO, as a way of holding the project accountable and also informing the general public about the successes of the project. Three books will be created, as conversation starters: one children’s picture book, one middle grade book and one young adult book. These books will focus on the theme of body positivity and inclusiveness at age appropriate levels.
Advocacy will take on a sustainable entity of its own. Small groups (of about 4-6 people) of survivors will come together to create support systems and lasting friendships during their time at Ohio State. These groups will serve as a type of “first line of defense” for survivors including-but-not-limited-to encouragement, providing escorts for the other members of their group to and from activities, get well cards, providing meals or support on “trigger” days (days in which the individual may suffer from the memory of a traumatic event). These groups will be for morale boosting purposes, but also provide a basic level of support by other people who understand the necessity of the group. There will also be collaboration with local law enforcement and politicians to promote an Ohio Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, modeled after the National Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which was passed just this year.
Apart from the support group, this project will be, essentially, a networking and structural one. In order for IMADTTO to become functional, I must prepare the foundations of each section (the survey, the website, the newsletter, educational materials) and use those to further the project. As the foundations are completed, the project will require assistance and guidance from both curriculum advisors and orientation organizers (for the survey course and orientation discussion) as well as the cooperation and coordination efforts between myself and the leadership of the schools which I will be presenting at. Once this is accomplished, the project becomes more self-sufficient. The course work and discussion materials will be available, as will the publications, finalizing the third tier. The research presentations head off the final leg of the project, support groups will form and be self-managing.
Achievements to date include the information gathered from my blog, in which the basis of this project has come into formation. The compendium of resources has been started, but is at a national level, compiled into an alphabetized list. This is a fantastic starting point, and will be made available on the website. I would like to make an Ohio-specific list for IMADTTO. I am also currently working to complete general IRB (Institutional Review Board) modules so that I can begin the project immediately.
There are several project goals over the course of the year. Within the first three months (July through September) the survey will be created and dispersed, data compiled, presentation materials created, website and newsletter created, and branch campus visits scheduled. In months four to six (October through December) will focus on the publications as well as drafting the Freshman Survey module and the Freshman Orientation discussion. The support groups will also be organized and commence in this time frame. The third quarter (January through March) goals are completing and publishing the children and middle grade books, speaking at the high schools and working with law enforcement and legislators to draft and propose the survivor bill. The final three months (April through June) will be centered on enacting the learning module, the orientation discussion and ensuring that IMADTTO has impacted the university in a positive way. Instructions will be created for those wishing to continue the support groups, newsletter and website (or final arrangements made). A research paper will be produced (and presented), and the young adult chapter book will be made available for purchase.
There is nothing about this project which will take more than 12 months to achieve, however, there are some items which will require ongoing effort. The Freshman Survey learning module, the Freshman Orientation parental discussion and the support groups will be the lasting sectors of IMADTTO, in the event that no one continues the newsletter and regular website upkeep. For the learning module, this will be in the hands of the faculty and staff who teach the survey course, as well as the curriculum advisors. The parent discussion will be in the control of the directors of orientation. The support groups will either end at the discretion of the individual groups, or will be in the control of Sexuality and Civility Empowerment.
I will measure the success of IMADTTO based on both quantifiable markers and abstract ones. The successful creation of educational materials, the website and the completion of the goals listed above will serve as indicators for the overall success. I will also view success based on the level of reach which the project will have. The introduction of the survivor bill and the implementation of discussions about changing rape culture and making sexual assault survivors less stigmatized, while a little more abstract, are no less important.

Budget Description:

In total, this project will require $48,469. This money will be utilized for marketing, data collection, producing educational materials and dispersing information. No external funding is required. Marketing will involve “swag”, or promotional materials to be distributed to the schools I visit, as well as at various times throughout the academic year. These items will include the link to the website, resource compendium and other valuable information. Data collection will include the cost of running the survey through Survey Monkey. This will also include the price of maintaining the website and domain name (if not included in the university’s page) and mobile application costs. Producing the educational materials includes printing handouts, producing the newsletter in print form and also startup costs for the books. Funds to sustain the project, as well as scholarships for the creation of artwork for the children’s book and mobile application design. A budget for travel is included not only to ensure transportation to the schools I intend to visit, but also to three conferences given by professionals for the sole purpose of combatting rape culture in their various professions. It is at these conferences that this project’s findings will be presented.
These financial resources directly affect achieving the project goals by ensuring the conception and implementation of the project itself. Without the research aspect, this project cannot fully address the concerns of the Ohio State population. Without the education aspect, IMADTTO cannot affect prevention of sexual assaults (or knowledge of availability of resources). Without the outreach aspect, no one will know what IMADTTO’s purpose is, what is being done and how to start the discussion about sexual assault. Without the advocacy aspect, no actual change will occur. Students will have to navigate the justice system alone, Ohio might not have a survivor bill of rights, law enforcement will not know which areas students feel unsafe in. By attending the conferences I have selected, I will be able to bring the knowledge of other professionals from a variety of backgrounds to Ohio State to continually make the information I have gathered both useful, timely and culturally relevant.

Additional Information:

Although I am not the only one to think of addressing the issue of sexual assault and rape culture, I do not believe there is a program which mirrors IMADTTO in its breadth and the way it is broken down. Of the programs which exist in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio and Sexuality and Civility Empowerment will be the resources I utilize most as I take on this project. Along with this, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network will be paramount to the successful accumulation of knowledge.
The marketing sector of this project will be taken care of both in person and through social media. I have a decent following on various social media platforms, and by utilizing the power and prestige of the university, I can access a vast database of networking moments through other students and faculty and staff. The in person marketing will come from meeting with students at their schools and at Ohio State’s Welcome Week.
In order for this project to be successful, each and every one of my interactions will be a form of partnership. Because I will have access to an entire university of staff and faculty who have insights into things I may not, such as research they’ve done over a specific facet of my project, the scope of my ideals will be far less limited. My faculty mentor will be the discerning rod for any questions I may have. From procedural decisions to research methods and write-up questions, I will use my mentor not as a crutch to lean on, but as a net to capture the things I might miss because of inexperience.
Apart from financial and networking assistance, all I require is a place to set up my work and internet access. This ideally takes the form of an office, so that I may organize my work in such a manner that causes maximum efficiency. I would also require a place (such as Sexuality and Civility Empowerment) for the support groups to meet if they so choose to do so on campus.
As with any project, there will be challenges. I anticipate that my own limitations in technology will be an issue, as will recruitment in the early stages of the project. As for the technological issues, I have designed a scholarship for the mobile application so that I can both give back to the university, but also so that I can devote my time to the website. Should there be problems beyond that, I am not too proud to ask for assistance and get my hands dirty! As for recruitment, I have set aside money in the budget for a reward for participants. There will be a raffle (for those who choose to enter) of 20-$50 gift cards. Any unforeseen problems will be handled with care and patience, and with the help of my faculty advisor.
I started down this path because of my own personal outrage at court cases like those involving Ke$ha, rapist Brock Turner and the Steubenville rape. In those stories I saw human beings who, like me, had had their bodily autonomy fractured and I saw the incredible strength of the survivors. It is with all of this in mind that I submit this project statement, in hopes that I might be the leader that my time at Ohio State has prepared me to be.
This project is more than just an opportunity to be the change I want to see in the world. It is the springboard I will use to further my career goals and ambitions. With graduation pending, I am applying to law schools around the country. It is a degree in criminal law which will afford me the honor of upholding justice and running for District Attorney. As District Attorney, I will continue the work I humbly began with my blog: fostering awareness and open dialogue between peoples of different backgrounds. I carry this one piece of truth with me each day, as both the inspiration for my passions, and also as the compass with which I make my decisions:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971.)