By Hayley Vanstrum
Every Saturday in April, New College student and Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee member Rebecca Hadwen hosts weekly workshops for students to process the emotions this month can bring up through writing.
The committee sets up the writing workshops as a casual and supportive environment where students can stop by, write, talk to others or make art for as long as they want. The workshops arose after surveys of the student body revealed many individuals wanted more events that focus on healing and recovery.
“It’s not that this, or any event this month, can fix everything,” said Hadwen, “but this is a space to process and just make whatever you want. For some people, having a more structured group environment helps with doing that. Also, people are hard on themselves, so being in a group can bring more positivity.”
During the workshops, Hadwen pulls from the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method, which helps guide students through the process of writing. The AWA method emphasizes that anyone can write and share their story, which is vital when guiding individuals writing about sexual trauma and recovery. Some of the guidelines of the AWA method include confidentiality, positive feedback and talking about all writing as if it is fiction, all to make participants more comfortable when writing about their experiences.
Writing prompts are available for students who may struggle to begin the process. This week’s prompts are: Write an ode to something you’re supposed to be ashamed of, and What secrets/stories does your body hold? Students are free to follow the prompts or write about other topics, if they wish. Hadwen emphasizes that the workshop can be anything students make it out to be.
“In a way, it’s similar to having a group office hours, where people come and go, share if they want to, but don’t have to talk about anything they’re doing. It’s very much based on being nonjudgmental and doing what you need to do,” Hadwen said.
SAAM writing workshops take place every Saturday from 6-9 p.m., in the Gender and Diversity Center. Visit the New College calendar for more information about additional SAAM events taking place during the month of April.
— Hayley Vanstrum is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing.