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Students mobilize to get sexual violence legislation passed in Massachusetts legislature

Sagie Tvizer ’19 encountered people throughout his time at Brandeis who showed interest in organizing around sexual violence prevention and equity, so he helped form a small, informal coalition aimed at trying to help these causes. When Alison Hagani ’22, a worker at Brandeis’ Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC), came to Tvizer with the idea to mobilize students in response to the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX rule, they decided to temporarily shift their small group’s focus toward bringing students together to testify before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education and to inform students about the effects of these bills in Massachusetts.

Hagani serves as the official campus lead for the Every Voice Coalition, an organization that serves to help students mobilize and help pass sexual violence legislation. Hagani and Tvizer have rounded up 12 students that will be going to the Massachusetts State House on April 9 at 10 a.m., and many of the students have agreed to testify before the Massachusetts Legislature. Hagani and Tvizer are spearheading, but according to Hagani, it would mean nothing if it was just them. “It’s crucial that we’re mobilizing other people because that’s the heart of grassroot organizing,” said Hagani.

The four proposed bills being heard include one House and one Senate bill for a mandated campus climate survey on college campuses, and one House and one Senate bill for Title IX provisions.

“This fight is very new to Brandeis. When I first brought it up here, no one really knew about it. It’s more prevalent at bigger Massachusetts schools,” said Hagani. The group efforts at Brandeis have included reaching out to over a dozen clubs, tabling in the SCC and trying to spread the word in any way that they can, according to Hagani. She said considering that they have started the mobilization movement at Brandeis from the ground up, she is proud of the work that they have done.

“We as students have the power to seek issues that we care about, to reach out to our friends and to meet informally and we can have an impact in doing that, and it doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive with other things that make us leaders on campus, in fact I think that it’s enabled when we’re leaders on campus,” said Tvizer. “We’re only part of what’s going on on campus. There are people who are doing this work. We’re just a piece of this puzzle,” continued Tvizer.

Hagani said that she first heard about Every Voice when they came to the College Democrats of Massachusetts Winter Convention in February, and she brought their mission to Brandeis.

“I can sit there, and I can be an advocate for PARC, but I think that advocacy stretches far beyond one’s own immediate surroundings, so I wanted to use my role and my privilege of being able to provide services to students at Brandeis to fight to get resources everywhere,” said Hagani.

PARC has agreed to provide transportation to the State House. Tvizer said that the activism at Brandeis seems to be different than it is at other schools. “I’ve noticed that there seems to be some institutionalization that is really awesome at Brandeis,” said Tvizer. “I’m seeing that PARC is really taking a leading role in empowering their students to engage in this type of activism, and even if they’re in an office in an institutional setting, they can have a role in supporting student initiatives.”

For information on how to get involved or to get transportation to the Massachusetts State House, email Alison Hagani at alisonhagani@brandeis.edu.

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