With signs held high and voices raised, students from several college campuses in the Salt Lake area marched over two miles — from the University of Utah to Westminster College — to protest against Sexual Assault.
The event, called “Take Back the Night,” took place Wednesday evening as part of the U’s “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” The campaign coincides with national Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, proclaimed by President Donald Trump in March.
Students for Choice, a campus organization dedicated to working toward equal reproductive rights, plans the annual event to raise awareness regarding women’s lack of safety in public spaces and to challenge society to change that.
“I’ve experienced walking around campus and not feeling comfortable,” said Jayden Howard, a student at the U. “That’s not right, this is my campus too.”
Speaking to some of the alleged improvements being made to assure student safety on campus, Howard added, “I think [the U] has good intentions, but I haven’t really seen anything. They tried the ‘Get Campus Lit’ campaign earlier this year, and I don’t notice any more lights.”
Students participating in the demonstration weren’t only concerned about safety on campus, but were also hoping to change society’s perception of sexual assault.
“I want to make people aware that this is still an issue,” explained Sandra Sato, another student at the U. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh that doesn’t happen anymore, it’s not that common,’ but it really is. And people need to be aware that sexual assault is an issue and it’s not the victim’s fault.”
Many men attended the march to stand in solidarity with women.
“I totally believe in feminism and equal equality,” said Tyler Lindeman, one of the men participating. “I’ve had a few close friends that have been in this situation and I want to speak out about it in my own little way.”
One individual, who identified themselves as a victim of sexual assault, brought their emotional support dog along.
“I was sexually assaulted first semester,” said Meredith Morello. “I think our school is really good about [addressing] it, but I do think that society really puts a lot of pressure for recovery and there is still a lot of victim blaming, which is why I am marching.”