Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE) is a student organization on campus that aims to prevent sexual assault, dating violence and stalking through advocacy and education. The organization envisions a campus culture where healthy sexuality is embraced, celebrated and respected.
PAVE hosts a variety of opportunities for students to participate in advocating for sexual assault and victim empowerment, including interactive peer workshops, volunteer programs, campus events and awareness campaigns.
“Our main goal is being there for people and for people to know about the resources that are out there for them,” said PAVE Chair Jessica Melnik.
PAVE offers the option for student organizations and classes to request workshops facilitated by PAVE employees, which aim to teach about the resources available to students. Workshop themes include a general workshop that covers gender-based violence, an allyship 101 workshop and others focusing on unhealthy relationships and deconstructing rape culture.
“We’re working to change the culture so that we are actually supporting survivors in all aspects of their life, mentally, physically, spiritually — a holistic view,” said Melnik.
Students looking to get more involved with PAVE have the option to participate in two programs. The Volunteer Leadership Program is where volunteers work on projects for PAVE, such as contributing to research and helping with events. The Peer Education Program (PEP) provides the training necessary to help facilitate workshops. Students can learn more about sexual violence prevention and anti-oppression work at PEP.
Violence At UW, an upcoming campaign, will include student organizations that center BIPOC voices to join in coalition with PAVE to further reach the diverse student population.
“We are working to address violence in an intersectional way on campus and taking into account the different identities that make up the student body,” said Melnik. “To be honest, a lot of the services on campus are in place to serve cis white women, which is great for cis white women, but not so great for everyone else.”
In April, Pave will host the Sexual Assault Awareness campaign, where workshops about bystander intervention and consent will aid in the organization’s pursuit in putting an end to rape culture and preventing sexual assault on campus. The organization’s current Stalking Awareness campaign was launched in January for stalking awareness month, but it’s currently coming to an end.
Last November, PAVE sponsored ASM’s proposed legislation that centered around anti-violence measures. The new legislation hopes to combat on-campus violence through the introduction of an Anti-Violence Committee and an Anti-Violence Coordinator. These new additions seek to advocate for student survivors at the legislative level.
“The more partners we have in this work the more effective we are. Working with ASM and student government, they’re in the spaces with administrators and to have an advocate within those spaces will help lessen our burden,” Melnik said.
This semester, PAVE holds weekly support meetings for survivors on Mondays from 3 to 7 p.m. and plans to partner with Greek life and other student organizations to further advocacy efforts. They will host a book talk with “Ordinary Girls” author Jaquira Diaz on April 20.