Students to march against sexual violence

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William Price

The march is put on by Georgia Southern University’s Sexual Assault Response Team and begins tonight at the University Store at 7 p.m. The goal of the march is to raise awareness on sexual violence and assaults.

“I’ve had friends who have dealt with sexual assaults. Coming to school made me realize how many people don’t know that these things happen. That’s what motivates me to tell people about this,” Shanna Felix, president of Sexual Assault Student Educators and junior psychology major, said.

This is the 12th annual march at GSU. The march will last about 45 minutes, and immediately after there will be a rally with an open mic for students to voice their opinions or give testimonials. Once the rally concludes, a candlelight vigil will be held to remember the victims of sexual crimes.

“Domestic and sexual violence have existed and flourished because silence has surrounded them. It was taboo to talk about sexual violence in public. The march and rally are changing that,” Jodi Caldwell, director of the Counseling Center, chair of SART and president of the Board of Directors of the Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault Center, said.

It’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of sexual assaults or rapes go unreported and untreated, according to the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault.

The “Take Back the Night” initiative started in England as a protest for women to express their frustration with the harassment they received walking down streets at night.

“If you can’t be comfortable talking about an issue, then it becomes extremely difficult to promote change or make change happen. If the issue is under wraps, nothing will change,” Deborah Perez-Lopez, assistant director of the Student Disability Resource Center and co-chair of SART, said.

The goal of the march is to have people discussing these issues in a public setting, Perez-Lopez said.

Caldwell said, “I think a lot of victims realize, ‘Wow, I’m not alone’ which really helps them heal internally. It can be very powerful to receive support from the community you live in.”