Students in matching purple T-shirts reading “Take Back The Night,” marched Wednesday from the U to Westminster College.
The two-mile march, including about 50 participants, was planned by Students for Choice, a campus group that both educates and advocates for reproductive health. The students partnered with the Center for Student Wellness and Planned Parenthood as well.
Heather Stringfellow, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood, said Take Back the Night marches are a symbolic gesture across the nation.
“We want to be able to walk freely at night without worrying about being attacked or any kind of sexual violence,” she said.
Natalie Green, president of Students for Choice, said while not all sexual assaults occur at night, the walk helps to empower the community.
“While you walk, you get to talk to your neighbors, share stories,” she said. “More than anything we’re just trying to engage our peers, to be part of the solution.”
For Green, the symbolic gesture is an important element of increasing education. She hopes to destigmatize sexual assaults and violence, which affects about one in three women in Utah.
The walk fell on Utah’s newly designated Start by Believing Day, which is set for the first Wednesday of April each year after legislation this year in the Utah House. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City), walked alongside students.
Romero hopes the holiday encourages “people who are victims of sexual assault to speak out and get the help they need.”
Victims of sexual violence can contact the Women’s Resource Center at (801) 581-8030 or the Student Wellness Center (801) 581-6431 for resources and counseling at the U. Students for Choice also provides peer-to-peer discussions.