March raises awareness for sexual assault survivors
Catherine Owers | Monday, September 28, 2015
On Saturday afternoon, approximately 50 students participated in a silent march to raise awareness for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses, following the path of the Notre Dame Marching Band as it marched across campus toward Notre Dame Stadium before the football game against Massachusetts.
Organizer Madeline Lay, a junior at Saint Mary’s, said the march was also meant to show solidarity with all those who have been impacted by sexual assault.
“It wasn’t meant to be antagonistic,” she said. “We just wanted to take this in a positive direction, because we feel like a lot of times protests or marches or whatever — they’re very angry and vicious and they’re directed toward the perpetrators. In this case, we wanted it to be about the people trying to change things. We wanted this to be supportive and make this a positive thing.”
Participants in the march wore white bandanas over their mouths to symbolize and honor the voiceless victims of sexual assault, Lay said, and carried signs with information and statistics about sexual assault on college campuses.
“We really wanted to encourage people in the community to stand up for these individuals, for the survivors, for the allies and just for people who are passionate about this and for people who are making strides already at their universities, whether it be for policy change or through other groups,” she said.
The majority of the responses to the march were positive, Lay said.
“It was really incredible because I’ve been working on this for months — all of us have. It was kind of amazing to finally see it come to fruition. … People were clapping and they were saying ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, never stop fighting,’” she said. “People were really supportive, and it was incredible, actually.”
Lay said she believes the march achieved its goal of bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault.
“When we finally stood in front of the stadium and we were looking out facing the library, you could just see people holding their thumbs up,” she said. “As we were marching, people were reading the signs and you could hear the shock in their voice, like ‘Oh my God, how did I not know this?’ … I think it’s going to start a lot of conversations, and that was kind of the point of it.”
The march was the first event sponsored by the organization I’m Someone, Lay said.
“[The organization] was started by six individuals who were really passionate about this cause because we live in this environment,” she said. “This was one thing we all agreed on, that we felt passionate about stopping. We really want to put an end to it, and we felt like the best way to do that was to really get out there and talk about it.
I’m Someone is not affiliated with Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s, Lay said.
“We really wanted to make it not about any particular school. … We’re not affiliated with any club, college or university, and we are made up of students from Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IUSB [and] members of the community.”