TW: Mentions of Sexual Assault
Sammie is a junior from Austin, Texas majoring in Law, History, and Culture and minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is the founder and former president of the Survivor Support Community (SSC). She co-founded SSC with her best friend whom she’s known since they were 16. Besides this, she is involved in Southern California Moot Court and was an issue lead last semester, where she taught Supreme Court Cases to new members. This past season, she placed second in the nation for a legal brief that she co-authored. She is also a part of Helenes and was their survivorship and wellness chair: a position that she introduced herself to.
Sammie’s story is an interesting one. She states that she had her “feminist awakening” when she was only in the sixth grade, which was also when she realized she wanted to be an advocate. She especially is drawn to intersectional advocacy, as she believes that this is the most effective and truthful form of advocacy. For example, as someone who has ADHD, she faced a large amount of medical sexism trying to figure out her diagnosis. This experience made her realize how ingrained patriarchy is in our day-to-day lives. When talking about why she decided to start SSC she told us that when she came to USC in her first year she was sure USC would have a club similar to SSC - which is an organization that is solely focused on supporting survivors. Once the news about the Sigma Nu sexual assault cases came out she realized that while she was already planning to create this organization she needed to start it immediately. Through the direct messages she received after her Instagram posts about the Sigma Nu tragedy, she realized just how many people were survivors and how much USC needed a club like SSC.
Sammie says that SSC differs from other resources on campus “because we are made for and by students. We are not limited in the way that campus resources are by bureaucracy and we can bring an important student perspective to these issues. I think that the way we go about resources can be much more grounding and sometimes helpful than other resources at USC because so much of healing from sexual assault is not feeling alone.” She also said she feels that there needs to be more awareness within the student body for change and advocacy for survivors because “professional help is only so useful without community support.”
She describes her responsibilities as the former president and founder as primarily focused on the vision for the club. She had to figure out what SSC should be like and what it should do. She had to figure out how to run meetings and how this organization would help the USC community in the best way possible. Since its beginning, the organization has grown and cultivated a safe and healing space for its members, which aims to help people not feel alone as a survivor and provide support. Next semester, when she comes back from studying abroad, Sammie plans on dividing SSC into two main branches: healing and advocacy – so that SSC can expand on the work that they’ve already been doing in both sectors. The healing branch will be the main branch of SSC, most similar to SSC’s current work, while the advocacy branch will be more specialized and smaller. On creating the advocacy branch, Sammie stated that “I want to have meetings with administration and collaborate with a lot of other student organizations and do education work, get the word out. I want people to know what SSC is and what we do so that they know where to get the right resources.” For Sammie, much of her advocacy “involves an analysis of getting to the root cause of sexual assault on a societal level.” She thinks that her gender studies courses have helped her significantly with this analysis.
Some fun facts about Sammie are that her favorite meal on campus is the chicken tenders from Seeds, but her favorite restaurant is the Law Cafe. Her favorite book currently is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, but her favorite book of all time is All About Love by Bell Hooks. Her advice to future Trojans is: “Go after what you want. That sounds so simple, but so much of my college experience has been figuring out that I should go after what I want. There’s so much cultural pressure to do certain things because they will supposedly make you happy. You should not do something just to put it on your resume – do it because you care about it, but beyond career and school be around people who make you happy,rather than people who you think bring you social status. Do not shrink or change yourself to fit other people in any way, which can be so easy to do in college because you are in a new environment. At the end of the day, the point of college is to start figuring out who you are and acting on that knowledge.”