The Denim Day Fashion Show was a brand new event that the Traditions & Community committee put together this spring with the help of RUTGERS NO MORE and The Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA.) Part of Rutgers’ participation in Denim Day, an international protest against rape, the event’s goal was to raise awareness of sexual violence on campus. Denim Day is based on a 1997 court case in Italy and the reaction that followed. In the case an 18-year-old woman was raped and abandoned in an alley by her driving instructor. The driving instructor was later convicted of sexual assault. However, months later the driving instructor appealed the sentence and the case was eventually heard by the Italian Supreme Court where it was overturned, dismissed, and the driving instructor was released. In a statement, the Head Judge argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them… and by removing the jeans… it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” Women in the Italian Parliament were enraged and protested the ruling by wearing JEANS to work! This act motivated the California Senate and Assembly to follow suit. The Peace Over Violence Campaign began in 1998 and a movement was born. In 2010 New Jersey state legislators passed a joint resolution naming April 28th as Denim Day in the state of New Jersey.
RUPA was approached by RUTGERS NO MORE and VPVA to see about doing something special to commemorate this year’s Denim Day, a Denim Day-themed fashion show. The committee began by planning the location and time of the event, with the event eventually taking place on a Tuesday evening in the College Avenue MPR. The fashion show featured over 25 Rutgers’ students and staff members walking down the runway, sporting their individualized denim-based style in support of the cause. The students and staff consisted of advocates, survivors and supporters, all of whom had personal reasons for participating. The event also featured spoken word performances and lectures, both entertaining and informing the audience in between models walking the runway.
Even though the runway did seem a bit intimidating, it was definitely the best part of the event. It was fun and exhilarating to be on stage in denim walking for this initiative with the support of the audience members. After the fashion show, there was a reception where we mingled with fellow runway walkers, friends and staff, which really created the community that we feel Rutgers has. In all, this is a great traditional event that will continue in the future until sexual violence is no more.
— Danielle Llaneza, Director of Marketing