More than 20 students marched down North Jordan Avenue Friday to support survivors of sexual assault survivors in response to the 35 reported cases since the beginning of the semester.
Shatter the Silence, a survivor-led organization whose goal is to support survivors of sexual violence, and Students Against Reproductive Restraints, a student organization fighting for reproductive rights, organized the “March for a Safer Campus.”
The organizers wanted a demonstration led by survivors and student organizations, junior and STS vice president Madison Smith said.
“Survivors were at the forefront of every decision that was made,” Smith said. “There was never any discussion of censoring survivors. This has happened with other demonstrations, and we really wanted to be a supportive environment.”
In the middle of the march, the students stopped on East 17 Street to allow people to share their stories. STS president Grace Yoder and Smith spoke about their experiences as survivors of sexual assault on campus.
“We want to make sure that people feel heard and feel affirmed and validated and believed,” Smith said. “What we're hoping to do is to provide a platform to hear people and to let them share their stories if they choose to do so.”
Smith said she hopes the march shows IU that students will not tolerate sexual violence, and they expect the university to take action.
“If the university is not actually doing anything, if they're not actually supporting survivors, if they're not making the reporting process less traumatizing, if they're not making campus a safe place to be a female student, then they're going to have some really upset students on their campus,” Smith said.
Junior Nina Brochin said they were a victim of sexual assault and were marching to ask IU to be better at protecting its students.
“I don’t see why IU isn’t doing anything about it,” Brochin said. “Their lack of action makes this a really important issue that is endangering students and their lives.”
Participants were given pamphlets at the beginning of the march with a list of resources and places for survivors to get medical and legal help and statistics about sexual violence on college campuses.
Multiple sexual assaults have been reported in fraternity houses this semester, according to IUPD’s crime log. IUPD has not listed all of the locations of reported sexual assaults, a policy that has led to multiple student protests.
Senior and STS vice president MegAnn Pearl said there is a lot that needs to be done to make the campus safer, but the march was more focused on survivors and hearing their stories.
“It's more so to show our support for survivors, to show solidarity, to show our frustration with how IUPD and IFC have handled the rise of assaults,” she said.
Pearl said the march was organized to keep up the momentum and raise awareness of sexual assaults this semester, especially now that fraternity parties and paired events are canceled indefinitely.
“We’re continuing to show our community that we're not going to back down from this fight,” Pearl said. “We just want to show everyone that we care about and support survivors, and we want to do anything we can to give them a place to be heard, to be angry, to cry, to have a space that’s all theirs.”