By Olivia Hickey
This was one of the chants that filled the University of Connecticut’s Storrs Campus during the ninth annual March to End Victim Blaming.
The event was Hosted by Revolution Against Rape (RAR), an organization that spreads awareness of sexual violence and rape culture through public events, awareness projects, discussions and community outreach, according to their mission statement.
For the first time this year the march was co-hosted by IN-Power, and Theta Delta Sigma Society, Inc.
The event was open to the public, taking place outside of the Student Union, with a debriefing that followed inside the Student Union.
The crowd included students from Eastern Connecticut State University’s chapter of the National Organization for Women.
President of ECSU’s NOW chapter Shaheera Khan said that RAR emailed their secretary about the event last year, and that they hope to come every year.
“This has to be one of the most empowering events I have ever been to,” Khan said. “It is a safe space. All-inclusive, just so understanding.”
President of RAR Annastasia Martineau said the event is held every fall and was formerly called the Slutwalk, but the name was changed in order to be as inclusive as possible.
Martineau said this is the first time the March had co-hosts, which was done specifically to highlight student activism and the importance of building community in this movement, and showing the university and the president that there are student organizations that care about these issues.
Martineau said UConn President Thomas Katsouleas was made aware of and invited to the event, but he did not get back to them.
“I have spoken to him personally, and he has said he supports this issue so we hope to continue to see that in the work that he does throughout the year,” Martineau said.
The March against Victim Blaming consists of a March which started at the top of Fairfield way, and went around the Storrs Campus.
Students were carrying handmade signs and marchers’ chants included “Yes means yes / And no means no,” and “When survivors’ rights are under attack / What do we do? / We fight back.”
The March was followed by the speak-out, giving those affected by sexual abuse the opportunity to share their stories.
Mae Flexer, State Senator for the 29th district and Gregg Haddad, State Representative from the 54th district, spoke after.
The representatives admired the bravery of those who spoke out and said that what they have to say is an important contribution to making laws and policies against sexual assault on college campuses.
Senior political science and economics major Diamantis Datli said she has attended the event since she started at UConn.
“The March Against Victim Blaming is honestly one of the most important events that we have each year,” Datli said. “I have attended it every year since I started school here and it means so much to everyone, especially the speak-out portion, like it’s amazing to just hear everyone’s stories and just be in a community that’s so accepting.”
Datli also gave advice to those thinking about coming to the event.
“If you’re thinking about coming to the event then that definitely means you should be at the event. It’s just an amazingly supportive community and it’s good to be there to a) tell your story, or b) to just support other people who are telling their stories.”