February 19, 2019

Marching for Justice: PC Students Stand with Victims of Sexual Assault

posted on: Thursday October 18, 2018

A group of students march for sexual assault victims.

PC students gather in front of the Slavin Center with posters to march around campus in
solidarity with sexual assault survivors. Photo courtesy of Will Bozian ’19/The Cowl.

by Angela Bueso ’22

Opinion Staff

It can be the person who sits next to you in biology lab, your seminar classmate, the guy who held the elevator for you, your professor, or the delightful lady who serves your lunch at Raymond Dining Hall. It can be anyone, of any race, of any age, of any background, that is a survivor of sexual assault.

The “Believe Survivors March” that took place on Oct. 4 is a step in the right direction towards helping these survivors.

With political and social uncertainty surrounding the country every day, newspapers, television reports, magazine covers, and seemingly new revelations emerging constantly, this past year has been an eye-opening experience for the world. 

From #MeToo to #TimesUp to #CancelKavanaugh, these movements have been continuously discussed in the media. Furthermore, as celebrities shared their sexual assault stories it seemed this problem was undoubtedly momentous, but simultaneously detached from our lives.

Humans tend to disregard an issue until it hits close to home, when they or someone close to them experience it. Only when this happens do they realize action must be taken. 

It was not until recently that Women Will, a women-run club at Providence College, decided to shine a light on this issue, and organize a march through campus to show support for and solidarity with sexual violence victims. 

The attendees of the march disregarded the rainy weather and worked together to show students, faculty, and staff that sexual violence survivors are everywhere and that it is our responsibility to support them through the hardships that being a survivor entails.

“Boys will be held accountable for their actions,” read one of the numerous posters featured in the march. Moreover, the march was as much a symbol for support to the survivors as it was a warning to sexual assault perpetrators that survivors are not alone, and justice will be served. 

“We Believe You” was the phrase that immediately drew attention. The idea that sexual assault survivors could be lying is not only unreasonable, but absurd and idiotic. 

For far too long survivors have remained quiet about their experiences, for far too long they have been frightened to tell their stories. If they are ready, it is time for sexual violence victims to speak up, and for the government, our society, and college officials to listen. 

Although PC does provide the privacy of posters hung on bathroom doors, resources for survivors should not be limited to the private sphere.

Additionally, during orientation, incoming students sit through information sessions regarding sexual assault, but once orientation is over, the conversation ends.

The College is lacking sexual violence prevention in the form of continued conversation stemming from the institution.

What keeps the conversation going, however, are platforms such as the March for Survivors held two weeks ago.

As shown by a sexual health report done by Trojan in 2016, PC is one of the worst 10 schools in the nation in terms of access to sexual health resources. Interestingly, it is accompanied by other religiously affiliated schools such as Baylor University and the University of Notre Dame.

Being a religiously affiliated college does not mean we cannot talk about sexual assault or sexual relations. It is not a taboo topic for college students. Administration and College officials must acknowledge it and provide proper information to prevent it.

The march that took place at the beginning of this month at our college was the ultimate act of support, defiance, and bravery. Sexual assault survivors are neither alone, nor defined by what happened.

Yes, it is a part of their stories, but being a sexual assault survivor is not their whole story. Rather, survivors are defined by their courage, persistence, and strength.

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