The Rice University Student Association held its first ever “SAy Yes to You Week” last week in an effort to promote mental health and wellbeing and sexual assault awareness on campus.
While the idea for the week stemmed from the results of the Survey on Unwanted Sexual Experiences released at Rice last year, SA Director of Marketing Jessica Lee said it became more all-encompassing of mental health and well-being among students.
“That was our original focus, to promote sexual assault awareness, but I found that it turned into something bigger,” Lee, a Hanszen College sophomore, said.
The week kicked off Monday night at the SA Senate meeting. On Tuesday, students enjoyed plenty of free food at the Housing and Dining “Study Break.” Wednesday and Thursday offered discussions on healthy relationships and a presentation from the Women’s Resource Center. The week culminated on Friday in an opportunity for students to sign the “It’s on Us” pledge to help prevent sexual assault.
SA Secretary Sonal Pai said she was pleased with participation in the week; nearly 100 students signed the “It’s on Us” pledge and over 100 came to the Housing and Dining study break.
“Since it’s our first year [holding this event], we weren’t expecting [the week] to be super grand, but the turnout was good,” Pai, a Hanszen College sophomore, said.
But strong turnout at these events wasn’t the only success of the week, Lee said. According to Lee, “SAy Yes to You Week” allowed students to connect to on-campus resources dedicated to health and well-being like the Wellbeing Office and the Women’s Resource Center.
“It was really cool to get to meet, and have the students meet, the people who run these organizations, and know that these campus resources are available to them,” she said.
Baker College junior Sierra Cowan, who attended the H&D study break, said the event gave her some much-needed time away from her textbooks.
“It was really nice to take designated time out of my hell week to focus on my personal health and wellbeing,” Cowan said.
Students who missed out on this week may have the chance to attend in the future. According to Pai, the SA executive team hopes to make it an annual event.
Lee underlined what she said is the true focus of this week: each individual’s personal health and wellbeing in the college environment.
“That’s why it’s ‘say yes to you,’ because it’s all about you — all about the Rice student,” Lee said.