By Andrew Smith
In the early afternoon of Friday, October 19, the leadership of UConn Revolution Against Rape (RAR) began to set up on Fairfield Way for the annual March to End Victim Blaming.
Before the March was even set to begin, a crowd of about 50 people gathered in anticipation.
Senior nursing major Lexi Graybon was excited to attend the event.
“It’s looking really good. I think that every march gets bigger and bigger, and I’m really glad to see people of all genders out here, not just women. I think that’s a really big step,” Graybon says.
The leaders of RAR briefly took the stage to address the sensitive nature of the topic at hand as well as to issue a reminder of the necessity of self-care, and with that, the march was off.
Chants of “Shatter the Silence. Stop the Violence” rang through campus, and signs with slogans such as “No One Ever Asks What the Rapist was Wearing” were barred for all to see.
While rounding the campus, the march was bolstered by the honking of buses and the applause of pedestrians.
After completing the loop around the Benton Museum and up past Jorgensen, the march returned to Fairfield Way where the leaders of RAR called the first of several speakers to the stage.
A brief statement was made by two members of The Eastern Connecticut Crisis Center describing the resources they have available to victims of sexual assault. Next, Elise Delacruz of The Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence spoke about the importance of recognizing intersectionality when it comes to addressing the issue sexual assault.
“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives”, said Delacruz, quoting feminist writer Audre Lorde.
Gregg Haddad, the Mansfield State Representative, and Mae Flexer, the Mansfield State Senator were also in attendance.
“Together we fought to make sure Connecticut is at the forefront of policies that prevent sexual assault and make sure victims rights are being respected,” Flexer said.
Each speaker used their own expertise on various facets of the issue in order to provide insight into the discussion.
The final speakers were the two founding members of UConn Revolution Against Rape. They offered to the crowd a spoken word performance in which they chronicled their experience at UConn and the sequence of events leading up to and following their introduction of the March to the UConn community.
Afterward, participants of the march were given the opportunity to take the stage and share their own experiences regarding sexual violence. The crowd clapped and cheered for each individual who chose to stand up and reclaim their story.
To conclude the event, headed into the Student Union Theatre to discuss and reflect on the march as a whole.