Tree planting dedicated to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence

Tree planting dedicated to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence

Katie Wade is a sophomore history and mass media major.

A tree planting was held on campus Thursday, April 30 to mark the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The tree planting was dedicated to victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

James Gutierrez, senior music and human services major, organized the event on campus. Gutierrez is an intern for the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment and has been in charge of campus outreach during Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.

“I was inspired to do this when I was looking online at different ideas for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and coming up with different events for on campus and I thought it would be perfect since Earth Week and Arbor Day are during April. So to sort of get both events – the dedication for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and then Arbor Day as well,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez selected and purchased a birch tree for the planting which he said represents renewal, protection and new beginnings and will symbolize new beginnings in the lives of those affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.

“I thought that was sort of a perfect theme to show that they can grow after whatever trauma they’ve experienced and thrive just like this tree will grow and thrive on campus,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said he hopes that the tree will continue to represent a larger movement on campus to end sexual violence and rape culture.

“I hope that…it will symbolize the movement of ending rape culture. It will take a long time and it will be a slow, gradual process – but it will be slow and gradual just like the growth of this tree.”