Student anti-sexual harassment initiative holds first fundraiser

By Logan Little, Editor in Chief

The Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SASHA) initiative hosted a gala to raise funds and awareness for SASHA in San Francisco on Saturday, March 30. The gala, SASHA’s first public event, featured a speech from Tam senior Georgia Westfall and commentary from a panel of five Bay Area-based youth activists, including senior Khadija Nakhuda.

Although the SASHA initiative is Bay Area-wide, many of its members are student activists from Tam.

“We’re putting a lot of the money [from the gala] in our budget for next year. This was effectively a launch party,” Tam sophomore and SASHA co-president Jake Cohen said. SASHA plans to use the $1,400 in entrance fees and donations raised from the gala to support a variety of future projects, including a website and a Bay Area youth-led town hall centered around sexual assault.

During her speech, Westfall described her experience as a victim of two sexual assaults.

Picus, a rock band, featuring Tam seniors Conor Kuczkowski, Nick Rein, and Kyle and Hartley Hood perform at the Student Against Sexual Assault youth empowerment Gala.

“What happened to me was violent and jarring and I was completely overwhelmed,” Westfall said. “As a result, my body’s natural fear response was to freeze. Without any education or knowledge of sexual violence, I took on the responsibility of dealing with trauma on my own. In the weeks and months after the assault, I felt incredibly guilty and I spent years pretending that nothing happened.”

Considering her trauma, Westfall used her speech to advocate for comprehensive sex education in schools. The panel also discussed the role of sex education in preventing sexual assault by teaching consent to students earlier in their education: in elementary and middle school instead of only in high school.

The roughly 100 gala guests were provided food and the opportunity to enter into a raffle for a spa package or gym membership. Picus, a rock band, featuring Tam seniors Conor Kuczkowski, Nick Rein, and Kyle and Hartley Hood also performed.  

“It’s really awesome to see both young people and adults in this room. All of us are learning new things and it feels like we’re finally touching on a subject that hasn’t been touched on seriously for a long time,” Oakland-based youth activist Ivan Garcia said at the gala.