Analysis: ‘OBNY’ club spreads awareness to prevent sexual assault


Cate Emma Warren

Standing in front of the LGI, president Seun Seriki discusses the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle is an event the club is planning for April which will showcase various types of student work. One of the goals of OBNY their December meeting focused on “raising awareness of Men’s mental health and beginning a lifestyle of normalizing it.”

Gracie Archibeque

This article was originally published in the January issue of Eagle Nation Times.

It’s an off day, the rare occasion where the school lifts the strict dress code. Also the day where 20 people cornered and surrounded a female student. Their stares penetrated as they gazed at the rare site of the non-uniform outfit she wears. Touching and following her, a case in which a human feels like an animal. Predator after prey. Yes – even in Prosper.

Victims of sexual assault and harassment live everyday experiencing guilt, denial and shame. Sexual assault continues to be an ongoing issue in every aspect of todays society and unfortunately, the numbers only grow. Studies nationwide show 81% of woman and 43% of men reported experiencing some sort of sexual assault in their lifetime.

Prosper students are working to raise awareness and provide support for victims of assault. Our Body Not Yours (OBNY), a new club here created by senior Seun Seriki, provides education to students to help understand the perspective of not just the victim, but the abuser –  along with everyone else affected by a sexual assault case. 

“The negative emotions and trauma victims possess from those experiences only build up and manifest into negative energy,” Seriki said. “We provide an outlet for survivors and victims to share their experiences through art and creative expression, so that they learn how to harness that pain and create something beautiful. “

One of the many hardships victims experience includes the lack of an outlet or a safe space to talk about their experiences, as well as being discouraged from sharing their stories.

“Joining OBNY gives students an environment to thrive in their creativity, vulnerability and heal from their trauma,” Seriki said. “OBNY allows students to learn how to think openly, look at different perspectives and express their emotions through healthy methods. Victims are able to grow confidence to share their experiences, and we learn how to change the lives of young people as a community.”

Introducing the guest speaker, vice president Mikayla Sexton reads off her phone during the OBNY December meeting. The head of the Man Up Initiative, Temidayo Seriki was the guest speaker for the club’s third meeting of the year. The meeting was held on zoom to host both Prosper OBNY members and the international members. (Cate Emma Warren)

Helping bring these assault cases to light, celebrities and musicians are increasingly sharing their cases as well as inspiring victims to come forward on their experiences. 

“These are the same celebrities that people look up to as visual and social role models,” Seriki said. ”They are viewed on a higher pedestal, so when celebrities come out and share their sexual assault experiences it allows us to relate and level with said role models. Seeing celebrities come out gives victims a sense of hope and confidence to come forward. 

A case between Brandon Fried from the band The Neighbourhood and lead singer of The Marias – Maria Zardoya, has helped fans become aware of sexual assault and harassment cases. Zardoya posted the details of her experience with sexual assault on her Instagram story Nov. 13.

“Last night… I was groped under the table by Brandon Fried, the drummer of The Neighborhood,” Zardoya said. “It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. I felt an invasion of my space, privacy and body.”

Tagging the band’s Instagram handle, Zardoya wrote. “Y’all need a new drummer, this guy is a complete creep.” 

Four hours after Maria Zardoya addressed the incident, Brandon Fried posted on his Instagram story stating, “I am so terribly sorry to Maria. My actions are inexcusable and intolerable. They are not reflective of who I am as a person, but clearly a reflection of who I become under the influence.”

Fried wrote that he is seeking help for his substance abuse.

“I am also sorry to The Neighbourhood,” Fried said. “(Also) to our fans for letting them down.”

Following Fried’s apology, The Neighbourhood posted on their Instagram story stating how grateful they are to Zandoya coming forward. 

“We have zero tolerance for any kind of inappropriate behavior towards women,” the band said. “As a result of Brandon’s actions, he will no longer be a member of The Neighbourhood.”

Fans of The Neighbourhood and The Marias are left in shock by this incident, which demonstrated how sexual assault can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere.

“Other notable influences who have spoken out about their experiences are Viola Davis, Lady Gaga and Brendan Fraser,” Seriki said. “These stars have had various experiences (that) have been able to uplift young people to embrace (their) vulnerability, and not be afraid or silent.”

Similar to typical sexual assault cases, people in power feel like they can abuse and prey on people with “less power.”

“This instills a sense of entitlement within them that shrouds their judgment and actions, resulting in them seeking any means to fulfill their awful desires,” Seriki said. “Especially because they are aware that due to the value they give their investors, no matter what they do; they won’t suffer the consequences because those who profit from them are willing to cover it up.”

After hearing these cases of and stories of celebrities, many wonder if they have experienced a form of sexual assault. 

“Sexual harassment can stretch from making derogatory comments to physical or violent touch,” Seriki said. “It can include catcalling, derogatory notes or writing, asking for explicit pictures, touching someone without consent, even staring at someone’s body.”

The most important thing in situations like that is communication with the person making that comment. Calmly explaining how you feel to that person can ensure either two options: They stop and apologize, or they ignore it but now they know that you feel that way. 

OBNY is created by students who did not have a safe place to talk about their experiences. Students giving students an outlet for those who have had innocence ripped away and for humans who have felt like prey.