How many Public Service Announcement reports about sexual assaults do you think you’ve gotten in your e-mail inbox over the last year? If you actually check your Hoyamail account, that answer probably ranges somewhere from “Too many,” to “Way too many,” to “Oh my God, can this be for real?”
On Wednesday evening, GU Men Creating Change, United Feminists, and Sexual Assault Peer Educators held a vigil in Red Square in response to recent sexual assault incidents and in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Students including Jared Watkins (COL ’11), co-Chair of GU Men Creating Change, Marion Cory (COL ’10), a board member of United Feminists, and Amanda Kerrigan (SFS ’10) of Sexual Assault Peer Educators, conducted the vigil “for all sexual assaults that occur and remain unheard,” according to the event’s Facebook posting.
Although the Facebook posting confirmed 96 confirmed guests, a crowd of only about 15 people gathered in Red Square for the vigil last night. The crowd, which included a representative from Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), discussed plans to increase on-campus sexual assault awareness.
“It’s important that people are well informed about sexual assault even without all the PSAs,” Watkins said. “We’re here to provide resources on related organizations or to let anyone who’s interested to get involved.”
Some students, such as Kristin Mitchell (COL ’10), expressed concern about the lack of University action against sexual assault during the vigil.
“We get the emails, but they’re met with almost complete silence,” Mitchell said. “We don’t see anyone mobilizing, just people saying, ‘Look how scary! Don’t walk home alone!’ But what can we do to change?”
However, representatives from the coalition of groups did not seem discouraged by the small crowd that attended the vigil—they instead argued that it was a step in the right direction. Undeterred, the groups plan to hold similar events in Red Square in future months in order to provide information and raise awareness about sexual assault.
Watkins, who seemed particularly optimistic, added, “All great movements start with about this many people!”