Denim Day at Luther College

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“Denim Day” participants gathered in front of the Luther Bell. Photo courtesy of NASA Instagram

On Tuesday April 27, students, faculty, and staff of Luther College could be seen wearing denim of all kinds. Denim jeans, skirts, hats, jackets, and even backpacks were seen across campus in honor of “Denim Day”, an event organized by Norse Against Sexual Assault (NASA). Participants were encouraged to wear denim in a show of support for sexual assault survivors, and upload images of the ‘fits to social media for greater visibility.

“The main goal of an event like ‘Denim Day’ is to help raise awareness and show support for survivors on campus,” NASA Vice President Savannah Deters (’22) said. “We hope to [communicate] that we support survivors in the Luther Community, and that we want them here on this campus.”

NASA is a student-led organization committed to sexual assault prevention and awareness, which focuses on educating the Luther community and supporting survivors. NASA is made up of student activists who are passionate about victim advocacy and NASA’s mission to raise awareness of sexual assault.

“At our meetings, we have topics surrounding different aspects of sexual assault and other areas to help educate people on these things,” NASA Treasurer Benjamin Hughes (‘23) said. “We also organize events and keep up to date on social media so that we can help prevent and support survivors to the best of our ability.”

Hughes believes that greater support can be given to survivors across campus. In many cases, that support starts with education and awareness. Many people across campus may not be familiar with NASA or its mission, but through events such as “Denim Day” and weekly meetings, it is their goal to continue education and support measures on these issues. “Denim Day” at Luther was introduced to show support to survivors, but according to NASA’s President Gretchen Dwyer (‘24), this event has a deeper history outside of Luther College.

“Denim Day started in 1999, after an 18-year-old girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor,” Dwyer said. “The victim was wearing very tight jeans at the time of her assault,s o the court ruled that she must have helped her driving instructor get the jeans off of her. In protest of this [ruling], women wearing jeans lined the streets in solidarity with the survivor. The intention of this yearly event is similar to the intention of the initial movement in 1999, to show solidarity with survivors on our campus.”

Sexual assault is something that affects many people across the country, but is not often talked about. NASA believes that it is important to discuss these issues and show survivors they have people on their side, especially on college campuses.

“The main reason [to support events such as ‘Denim Day’] is to show that we care, and that the people who experience these things are not alone,” Hughes said. “Sexual assault can cause a number of mental and physical health problems, and knowing that there are people out there who support you can make all the difference.”

Although this event was highly publicized and visible, there are other ways the Luther community can continue to support survivors.

“The best way to support survivors is to believe what they tell you and hold others accountable for their actions,” Hughes said. “It may feel like a small action that does not have a great impact, but it ripples and creates waves. We need to change the narrative in our day-to-day lives before we can hope to create real change at a greater level.”