By Schae Beaudoin
A committee of the University of Connecticut’s student government is seeking to rebrand the path connecting the off-campus Celeron Apartments to the school’s campus.
While its formal name is Celeron Path, a popular nickname for the walkway among students is the “rape trail.” A Hartford Courant article from 2000 attempted to discover the origins behind the nickname. It was a consensus among students and instructors that no one is really sure where the name came from.
“We’re trying to steer away from that name because it normalizes sexual assault and it kind of trivializes the nature of sexual assault,” said Sophomore Stephanie Sponzo, UConn Undergraduate Student Government Senator and head of the project.
While in recent years, better lighting, emergency phones, and security cameras have been installed along the trail, the nickname still persists. Sponzo said the committee wants to make the path feel more like a shared space, in the hopes that students will feel more comfortable on it.
“We want to have it be a space where there can be activities, 5Ks, picnics, and we want to have a funding system in place so that student groups can buy trees, buy shrubs, bushes, benches, things like that, to really make it a community space that people can use as opposed to a path in the woods that has this bad reputation,” said Sponzo.
Sponzo also said the nickname “rape trail” is tied to the larger problem of rape culture on campus.
“It really ingrains it into our mind that that’s a normal part of our culture and that’s an acceptable thing to do,” she said. “If there were to hypothetically be a sexual assault on that trail, the dialogue around it would likely be, ‘Well she was on the rape trail, so why would she not expect to be raped?’”
The committee hopes that with the time and effort of their project, the infamous Celeron Path nickname will disappear.
“We hope that turnover will be kind of on our side in the way that when freshmen come to campus, we potentially are going to have a part of orientation where they’re walked by the path and we’re going to have a sign at the front that said ‘Celeron Path,’” Sponzo said. “So hopefully the visual, along with a tour guide saying ‘This is the Celeron Path,’ will ingrain it in their minds as freshmen, and they will never have known it was called anything else.”
Sponzo said the Student Development Committee has been working closely with administrators and landscapers to help rebrand the path, and is hoping other student organizations are interested in getting involved through donations and planting trees.