The area outside of Eigenmann Hall fell silent for 26 seconds Thursday evening. More than 100 people in masks sat on the ground to take a 26-second-long moment of silence to commemorate the 26% of female undergraduate students who have been sexually harassed at IU-Bloomington.
This demonstration came the day after students were informed of a reported rape at Eigenmann Hall. People gathered outside the building in hopes of creating a safe space to honor all sexual assault victims at IU. The demonstration began at 6:30 p.m.
Freshman Kylie Bostock organized the demonstration Wednesday night after discussing it with friends. Bostock said they often felt unsafe walking around campus and wanted to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual assault within college communities.
“This has been put on to show them that we’re watching and we care, and to kind of put some pressure on the officials to handle this correctly,” Bostock said.
Bostock said the number of people who attended reassured her faith in the IU community.
“The first week I would stay up in my room and be scared to leave because you think there are all these monsters walking everywhere,” Bostock said. “This shows you that there are people who care, there are people you can turn to.”
Attendees were asked to wear a mask and gather in groups of 15 people or less. Everyone was asked to stay 6 feet apart at all times, but the space could not accommodate the number of people effectively.
Some student signs included phrases such as “We will not be silenced” and “Boys will be held accountable.”
The demonstration began with opening statements from Bostock and other students who helped organize the event, and was followed by the 26-second-long moment of silence.
Freshman Courteney Biggs said she was happy to see an event that brought attention to all survivors, including many who may not come forward publicly.
“It’s really nice to see people are trying to do something like this,” Biggs said. “A lot of people don’t have the courage to come out and say what happened to them.”
Attendees were given the opportunity to speak to the crowd about their own thoughts and experiences. Freshman Sean Egli, a sexual assault survivor, said he was encouraged to see so many people share openly with the group.
“I found it so inspiring for them to go up and show their support and love for everyone here,” Egli said.
This was the first demonstration of its kind that Egli attended.
“I thought that this was something local I can be a part of, not just to stand for myself but to also stand with others who have maybe gone through the same thing,” Egli said.
The sit-in ended after 7 p.m., with another moment of silence for those who have come forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment survival, as well as those who have not. Egli said he hopes students can continue to support each other outside of the event.
“Just be an advocate for each other,” Egli said. “Tell people you have open ears.”