Penn State Lotus Creates Safe Space For Sexual Assault Survivors In Minority Communities

Penn State Lotus was created earlier this year when student co-founders Lahari Peruri and Aye Ochai noticed a lack of support for sexual assault victims in minority communities at Penn State.

Although the organization is new, the issue has always been there and overlooked. According to Science Daily, sexual assault victimization disproportionately affects minority college students. Lotus is working to address the issue by raising awareness through conversation.

“Abuse is normalized and kept as this ‘hush, hush’ aspect of our regular functioning,” Peruri said. “I’ve noticed how this has become a mechanism in minority communities at Penn State and, in turn, has constructed a very horrible environment for survivors of sexual violence to even be present without being villainized for voicing their truth.”

The organization’s mission is to address the stigmas around sexual violence in minority communities by creating a safe, healing environment for survivors and allies. Lotus believes educating and encouraging students to become allies is key to changing the bystander culture.

“In its growth in nature, [a lotus] extends beyond its conditions of being positioned in muddy water, still blooming and surpassing the heaviness it is situated in,” Peruri said. “We hope that this symbol exemplifies our mission statement and the strength of survivors who prevail and extend themselves beyond trauma they experience.”

The organization dedicates its social media presence to changing the narrative and promoting dialogue. Its page is curated toward informational posts about how to be a more active ally and advocate. It also seeks to explain various issues surrounding sexual assault.

With a growing platform, Lotus plans on collaborating with other student organizations, Penn State offices, and guest speakers to spread its mission and messages. Its members hope to create policies to better accommodate marginalized communities.

“Our space is entirely held for you,” Lotus tells survivors. “Our organization is here to support and honor that journey of getting there. Whether you wish to join our initiative or not, our mission includes you in every form. Our work is for you.”

Anyone who has empathy for their peers and is willing to show their support can be an ally. Lotus’s only requirement for joining the organization is to be mindful and respectful to yourself and other survivors and allies.

Students can join the initiative by following Penn State Lotus on Instagram. For more information, check out its website.

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About the Author

Aubrey Miller

Aubrey is a third-year landscape architecture major and a writer for Onward State. She is from North Carolina, but can't stand country music. Aubrey is obsessed with her four cats, and some would say too obsessed. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @aubreymillerr to see her cat posts.

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