Student organization feature: Norse Against Sexual Assault (NASA) TW: Mentions of rape and sexual assault

On September 21, 2021, the Norse Against Sexual Assault (NASA) convened for their first meeting of the 2021-22 school year. NASA’s president, Gretchen Dwyer (‘24), led the 17 attendees through introductions of the group’s executive board, shared the group’s plans and goals for the year, tackled exciting guest speaker possibilities, and reviewed the structure for future meetings. 

 

Dwyer, who has been president of the group since spring of 2021, has plenty of new ideas to lead NASA into the new school year and to provide resources and education to the Luther community. 

 

“I am very excited for NASA members to learn more about the different elements of sexual violence prevention,” Dwyer said. “It’s more than just talking about safe sex and consent. People need to know how to protect themselves, how to report instances of sexual violence, how to erase their pre-concieved notions of abusers, and how to challenge the stereotypes set before them.” 

 

Some of NASA’s plans for the new year include leading book-talks on Linda Tchirhart Sanford and Ann Fetter’s “In Defense of Ourselves; A Rape Prevention Handbook for Women,” which provides an introduction to those wanting to learn more about sexual assault prevention. Dwyer plans to discuss the contents of a new chapter each meeting, ranging from topics about physical self defense, resisting verbal and physical manipulation and abuse, how to help and serve survivors, how to encourage humane treatment of others, as well as information on promoting consent and healthy sex.

 

Jack Kates (‘24) was among those in attendance at the first NASA meeting. He was drawn to the organization after meeting and befriending Dwyer at a protest, and because he is passionate about making Luther a safer place for survivors of sexual assault. 

 

“I look forward to seeing the awareness around sexual violence at this school continue to grow,” Kates said. “Luther needs to address what is happening to their students on campus.”

Like most student organizations on campus, NASA was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of opportunities for gathering in the 2020-21 school year. NASA’s social media representative Emily Dyrdahl (‘22) hopes to rejuvenate the organization in the new school year.

 

“My freshmen and sophomore years [NASA] was really big,” Dyrdahl said. “Once Covid came it hit a wall, and everyone who was involved in it graduated and left. So, we’re kind of rebooting it and restarting it.” 

 

Some of NASA’s goals for Luther are to advocate for harsher and more regular punishments for offenders in college settings, a way to report offenders without going publicly through Title IX, and for a shift in attitude when talking about sexual assault on campus. In the future, both Dwyer and Dyrdahl hope to expand the group’s outreach on campus, but also to educate and empower students on issues of sexual violence. 

 

“I want Luther students to become more educated on the topic and feel as though they could teach about it themselves,” Dwyer said. “NASA’s goal is to instill a sense of confidence into survivors and support them through their process of healing and justice.”

 

NASA holds meetings every other Tuesday evening in person, as well as broadcasted over Zoom. To learn more about NASA, watch the Zoom meetings, or to join the informational email list, go to the NASA Instagram page where applicable links can be found in the account bio.

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