Even before founding Students for Sexual respect this spring, Gallatin sophomore Josy Jablons met frequently with the administration to ensure the university maintained prevention programs, crisis services and disciplinary procedures in compliance with federal guidelines. Last August, Jablons reached out to NYU administrators and informed them about her intention to create Students for Sexual Respect.
“I am passionate about sexual assault prevention because it merits national attention,” Jablons said. “But, mostly, I’m passionate about this because it’s personal. I work so that others might find the advocacy, survivor community and support that I never had.”
Jablons then spent the next six months establishing this coalition to fight campus sexual assault, culminating in the ratification of Students for Sexual Respect as an official NYU club in December. The university gave the club a budget of $100, but through partnering with other student organizations, Jablons was able to collect $3,000 for their cause.
Jablons said the purpose of the organization is to provide support to students who have survived sexual assault.
“I am contacted really often by victims and survivors who either are confused with the reporting process, the adjudication process or they have already gone through that and didn’t get the outcome they were expecting and now need help and don’t know what to do next,” Jablons said. “A lot of students who come talk to me, they felt like they had no student support system, so that’s exactly what I want to be.”
The club currently has 40 students on its listserv. However, Jablons managed to sign up 100 people for the big photo campaign the club is working on, #BetterSexTalk, including students in Greek Life organizations and other clubs on campus. Students were asked to come up with a phrase about sexual respect and pose with it in order to promote conversation about sex and sex education.
The president of the Feminist Society, CAS junior Meghan Racklin, said Jablons, who is treasurer of the Feminist Society, has the passion to be able to pull through with a project as hard as engaging students on campus against sexual assault.
“She’s incredibly passionate and committed, and even though this can be incredibly emotionally difficult work, she stays hopeful,” Racklin said. “As this movement looks forward, that’s something that’s desperately needed.”
Jablons originally came to NYU as a student in the Tisch School of Arts, but decided to transfer to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study because of the flexibility the school offered her. Jablons said even though she transferred out of Tisch, she is still interested in exploring the arts because they provide a platform for the fight against sexual assault on campus.
“I came here to study in the arts school and I’m not letting that go,” Jablons said. “I also think that the arts are such a powerful way to get things done and to further and strengthen political movements and that’s usually not a connection that’s necessarily made.”
Jablons’ Gallatin adviser Sharon Friedman said Jablons stands out from other students in Gallatin because she is very focused on what she wants to pursue in the future.
“She’s already doing what she would like to do in the future,” Friedman said. “She is already doing what she is studying, and by studying it alongside with doing it she is contributing to the university and to the citywide effort on behalf of sexual justice and sexual respect.”
Alongside her coursework and her extracurricular activities, Jablons manages to find time to intern for both the National Organization for Women and the Center for Artistic Activism. Jablons is also part of network of students across New York that are currently working with NYC Public Advocate, Tish James, and providing feedback to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his recently proposed statewide legislation for campus sexual assault.
Jablons said one of the reasons she got to work on this team of students was her confidence to stand up for what she believes in.
“I’m not afraid to put myself out there and stand behind my ideals and have my name be on those things, so that’s definitely helped in terms of making connections,” Jablons said.
While creating a university funded club can be a difficult task, Jablons said it is worth it because of the long-term impact of her club.
“I wanna leave a legacy behind,” Jablons said. “I’m going to graduate in a few years, or maybe be abroad. I want something that can stick around and that’s why I think it was good to go through the university.” • Marita Vlachou