Students for Reproductive Justice (SRJ) held an “emergency action” demonstration against sexual violence late afternoon of Oct. 3 on the Lake Shore Campus (LSC) in front of the Information Commons (IC).
SRJ is not registered as an official Loyola student organization but fights for sexual and reproductive health such as providing contraceptives on campus.
This demonstration comes after four criminal sexual assaults and four criminal sexual abuses were reported on or near the LSC by members of the Loyola community since Aug. 26, according to Campus Safety reports.
After attending a safety forum on Sept. 28, senior organizer of the demonstration Melissa Haggerty said she questioned if Campus Safety was doing enough to address the growing epidemic of sexual violence and said she wants to bring awareness to the issue.
More than 60 Loyola students and community members participated in the demonstration. It began with SRJ holding signs on the steps in front of the IC and Haggerty yelling chants including, “Yes means yes, no means no, whatever I wear, wherever I go,” and, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, rape culture has got to go.”
Haggerty said she was pleased with the turnout, but wants to continue the fight.
“I am always happy, being that I am a survivor [of sexual assault] myself, when other people feel like they have a space of their own to share their stories,” she said.
One in five women and one in 71 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The demonstration included 109 seconds of silence for sexual assault victims because every 109 seconds someone is sexually assaulted, according to Haggerty.
Sexual assault survivors and supporters came forward to share their stories and show their support for SRJ’s cause. SRJ handed out fliers that included pictures of Campus Safety emails and various media articles. The fliers read, “This is what rape culture looks like,” and SRJ encouraged students to post them around campus.
Haggerty said she would like to see more action from Campus Safety.
“One thing that could be addressed is the way they send crime alerts out, and at the bottom [of the emails], the warnings are very victim-blaming, and I think they should do more to put that pressure on the perpetrator,” she said. “I know being safe is important in the community, and I know it’s required to put that out, but it’s very one-sided.”
Loyola student Radiance Cooper went to the event because she said that as a first-year student, she is concerned about the rape culture on college campuses.
“Coming into college, I knew it was a problem,” said the 18-year-old. “I felt that wherever I would go, it would be an issue, which is upsetting. I look at it like I don’t want to promote victim-blaming; that’s my main goal.”
Sophomore Jeff Bucholz said he thinks rape culture is a part of society today and that it is important to come listen and show support to survivors.
“As a guy, there’s a lot of privilege involved here because I don’t have to worry about any of this stuff,” said the women and gender studies and creative writing double major. “It’s not something I live with daily, so it’s important for me to see what I can do to help. I feel like sometimes guys tend to co-opt these sorts of movements and try to derail it.”