Sexual assault awareness pushed to forefront

Students, faculty and community members alike made themselves heard throughout the campus Thursday marching and chanting “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, and no means no,” in support of those who are sexually assaulted.

They marched with teal, purple and pink glow stick in hand around campus for the 23rd annual “Take Back the Night,” a Sexual Assault and Counseling Information Service sponsored program focusing on making the campus aware of the issues plaguing men and women, sexual assault.

They looped around Lumpkin Hall then walked to Old Main, loud and intense, ultimately reaching Old Main, which was lit teal, the sexual assault awareness color, in support of the march.

Sociology assistant professor Katherine Bass said this march was crucial in getting the attention those on the campus as well as the community.

“This is meant to get people’s attention and that is why it is this loud event,” Bass said.

The evening started with The Moon Dogs singing songs like Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” with lyrics correlating to the night itself.

“I’ll never do you no harm,” the Moon Dogs sang.

Erin Walters, the SACIS executive director, said she was surprised by the turnout, especially with Greek Week events occurring the same day. In the University Ballroom they did not have enough chairs at first, requiring for 6 more rows of chairs to fit the crowd that attended.

Roughly 200 joined in the march through the campus, stopping at the 7th Street Underground in the Union where they had a vigil for those affected by sexual assault. The roughly 25 who stayed had the ability to talk about their experiences with the issues and were able to share there story on-stage.

While there was a brief pause with the microphone slouched down void of sound, Kimberlie Williams, a former SACIS client, walked up on stage. After the pause, she spoke.

“This year marks a pretty important year for me,” Williams said. “This year will be 10 years since I was sexually abused for a period of three months by my mothers’ boyfriend at the time.”

This year is also the year she said she was getting married to her boyfriend. She continued speaking about the people who got her through the experience like her boyfriend and SACIS counselors.

“It is kind of scary being the first one to come up and talk,” she said.

After her confession, the floodgates opened. Students and community members with tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats spoke out about their experience.

“Hopefully we will be brining more attention to (sexual assault) so that it gets better,” Bass said.

Jarad Jarmon can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]