For many college students, Halloween is an exciting season filled with costumes, parties and candy. However, what may not cross one’s mind is the potential dangers of Halloween night, especially when that comes to sexual assault. The prospect of sexual assault is a very real danger for college students and it is imperative that we learn how to prevent these occurrences.
Grand Valley State University’s theatre troupe ReACT! Put on a Halloween themed performance in order to showcase the dangers of Halloween and what preventative measures can be utilized in order to prevent sexual assault from occurring. ReACT! is a theatre troupe here on campus that sparks a discussion on issues based on the needs of the community such as trauma, sexual assault, stalking, partner abuse and bystander intervention.
The question of consent on the basis of one’s costume is non-negotiable and in ReACT!’s performance, we see students taking a stance against the sexual violence that may occur based on the notion that a the costume is “too sexy.” In this performance, we learn that consent should never be implied on the basis of one’s attire, and also what preventative measures may be taken to protect not only ourselves, but fellow students in danger of sexual assault
“It’s so important that college students are exposed to these topics because unfortunately, these are real life occurrences,” said ReACT! member Alex Coy. “Our audiences are typically adults, so we think that it’s very important for them to know what to do when they are witnesses and upstanders.”
When discussing how art or theatre is an effective means of getting the message across about consent and sexual violence, cast member Rachel Moore said, “it makes it easier to talk about in a setting where students feel more comfortable.”
Moore also stated that it is incredibly important to discuss this with college kids since the age range where most sexual assault occurs is within the age period of 18-24. This makes it imperative to educate the Laker community.
This high energy and engaging performance discusses a variety of topics including sex education and the similarities and differences of Halloween throughout the years. The troupe also gives methods to prevent sexual assault. For instance, teaching students four different ways to become an “upstander” (a term frequently used by the group indicating an active bystander).
The cast also incorporates the audience members to give them a fuller understanding of what consent means and gives them a chance to utilize the preventative methods for sexual assault.
“We do these performances because we know that the topics we cover (sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, etc.) are all very difficult topics to talk about. For the most part, nobody is going to sit down with their group of friends and discuss their different ideas of what consent is and what to do when something happens,” Coy said.
ReACT provides a safe and uplifting environment to talk about sex and the concept of consent. The show provides students with tools that they can utilize in the real world for a safe Halloween experience.