Santa Clara University to Unveil Tool to Help Prevent Sexual Violence


Santa Clara University in California will debut a first-of-its-kind tool in combating sexual assault on college campuses this month.

 "Can't Thread a Moving Needle" is a complex and intriguing film adapted from the play written by SCU Theatre Professor Barbara Means Fraser. The play was written based on interviews of victims, survivors, perpetrators, family, friends, counselors, professors, and attorneys. Fraser, one alumnus, and nine students from her Playwright's Workshop course gathered stories and commentary from over 100 people from a variety of states.

"We believe this project will help reduce sexual attacks on campuses across the country," Fraser said. "While the horrific truth is we're a long way from stopping sexual violence altogether, "Can't Thread a Moving Needle" really forces members of the campus community to think about situations they encounter daily and what role they play in keeping each other safe."

Beginning in 2008, Santa Clara University freshmen watched the play as part of their orientation to the University, and the majority have said they would recommend it to a friend. The movie will be available on a free website with other sexual assault prevention and education resources. The interactive site will also be a resource to help universities comply with the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act).

"This movie is a means to engage people in conversation about a very difficult topic," Matthew Duncan, associate dean for SCU's Office of Student Life, said in a statement. "A big part of Jesuit education is going beyond that and engaging in action to make a difference in the lives of others and our communities. We are proud of the potential this project has to make that kind of difference."

The play was written in 2007 after the school received a "Reducing Violence Against Women" grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. A grant awarded in 2013 from the AVON Foundation for Women made the production of the movie possible this summer. The movie will premiere at a private event on campus and be made available free to the public and other colleges and universities online on January 12.

"Sexual assault is everyone's problem. It's not a women's issue or a men's issue, but everyone's issue," Mike Whalen, director of "Can't Thread a Moving Needle," said. "To make a film that will help more people recognize that has been a rewarding journey."

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