Students March Against Sexual Assault
Yesterday morning, more than 120 students came together on Pollock Road to participate in the University Park Undergraduate Association’s Second Annual “Every Lion a Shrine” Sexual Assault March. A recent study by the Department of Justice shows that 1 in 4 women will be victims of rape while in college, a startling statistic that Penn State students hope to lower.
Many student groups were present for the march, including the Penn State Chapter of the NAACP, UPUA, Men Against Violence (MAV), and various fraternities and sororities. Omega Phi Alpha Service Sorority attended the rally, in hopes of raising awareness about sexual violence and being strong role models for other female students at Penn State.
UPUA Student Life and Diversity Chair Colleen Cannon said that the march was important because the risk of sexual assault is, “Something that many people don’t know about, and it’s very important that student leaders take a stance to increase awareness.” UPUA President Christian Ragland agreed with Cannon’s sentiments, adding that, “Any statistic that exemplifies rape in college is disgusting…We are one family, and we need to find ways to resolve this issue.”
Tanner Fitzgerland, a member of MAV, attended the march along with many members of his organization, which is organized through the Center for Women Students. In addition to attending rallies like this one, MAV is also available to speak to residence halls, fraternities, and other student groups about sexual assault. Fitzgerald said the Department of Justice’s statistic is, “Eye opening…and close to reality, if not understated.” Youssouf Ahmend, at the march representing the Penn State Chapter of the NAACP, similarly expressed his concern about the fact that, “Every other week, [you] read about another woman being assaulted…it’s an alarming issue, and we need to raise awareness.”
Some Women’s Studies classes got extra credit for attending the march alongside their professors, a few of whom walked with students to show their solidarity in the fight to decrease violence on college campuses.