April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and students at Temple University in Philadelphia are already making strides towards raising awareness for sexual violence on campus.
This past Wednesday, March 29, Temple students gathered to support sexual assault and rape victims and raise awareness through an event called Walk TU. Formerly known as "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," the event name was changed this year to be more inclusive. Students at the walk congregated in Temple's Founder's Garden to listen to student and community speakers before walking around campus for the event. This strikingly powerful image was displayed at the gathering location:
Rape and sexual violence are increasing phenomenons on college campuses. College women ages 18-24 are three times more likely to be raped. Furthermore, among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault. This statistic is staggering, but is likely much higher, because many rape cases often go unreported.
The purpose of the Walk TU was to engage students in trying to end the stigma against rape and sexual assault on campuses and to increase awareness towards these issues. Tyrell Mann-Barnes, Vice President of the student organization Student Activists Against Sexual Assault, helped plan and coordinate the event. This student organization partnered with Women Organized Against Rape, Philadelphia's only rape crisis center, for the Walk TU. Tyrell commented:
"The process was so amazing. It was an awesome opportunity to be on the planning committee. My favorite part had to be looking back during the walk and seeing a block of people all marching to end sexual violence on our campus. I'm still overflowing with so many emotions. I just hope that people continue the conversation because that conversation is what makes the difference and spreads the awareness. I also hope that students decide to join Student Activist Against Sexual Assault. It is such a necessary organization and together we can all truly make a difference on this campus and within our community."
Many student organizations and groups got involved in the event and displayed their activism on social media:
Many students found the event to be extremely powerful. Temple University student Kayla Martin, junior strategic communication major, noted:
"Walk TU was an amazing event. There's so much power in our voices when we join together to make a change. I truly felt inspired and motivated to continue the fight towards ending sexual violence. I can't thank the organizers enough for putting the event together."
Freshman Jacob Kurtz, a community development major, also highlighted the sense of community at the event:
"Getting to be a part of Walk TU was an incredible experience. To see all those students (400 was the estimate) united over a single cause and get to be a part of that meant so much to me. I've never been more proud of my campus."
With students out in full force to support ending rape culture and kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, one Temple staff member tweeted an important reminder:
Be sure to check out your own campus resources and events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month so you too can be a part of the conversation that ends sexual violence, rape and rape culture on college campuses.
Lead Image Credit: Wolfram Burner via Flikr Creative Commons
Editor's Note: Some comments have been slightly edited for clarity.