April, as most of the people in my office are painfully aware, is sexual assault awareness month. Though it’s wonderful that there is a concentrated month of programming surrounding response to and prevention of sexual violence, for those working on campuses, it’s an inconvenient time of year. Most semesters end in May, meaning that in April students (myself included) are busy with midterms or are gearing up towards finals. Even if students aren’t busy, it’s hard to encourage people to get involved with the issue when they’re only a month out from summer break.
This is part of why, at my university, we do Take Back the Night in October or November. It serves as a good gearing-up activity going in to winter break, and helps us pull in freshmen who have by that point found their footing on campus.
However, this doesn’t mean that April is an empty month for my office. In fact, I’m helping to organize a regional conference (the first annual!) on sexual violence work and campuses, with a focus on Georgia institutions. The underlying principle is one of intersectionality. We’re hoping to brink people together to talk about sexual violence in a social justice context (which, given the social justice work of most universities, is facilitated by being on a campus).
This means that over the last few months, I’ve learned a lot about what needs to be considered when getting a conference off the ground. This is likely the first of several entries cataloging the process of getting people to campus in April.
Start early: The idea that became this conference was first mentioned to me by my boss at the beginning of last semester (in August). Particularly when you’re looking at starting a brand-new event, there is a lot of ground work to be laid. This goes doubly if you’re looking to get institutional funding. That process, more than anything, has taken time. If my office had started looking at funding now, we would have waited too long to hear back about a budget to plan anything.