Saturday, April 1, 2023

No Means No ‘Raise Your Voice’ Sexual Assault Walk

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Students hold posters in front of water feature. PN Photo/ Andrew

By: Shania Crosby, Reporter

UNCP students took a stand with the “Raise Your Voice Walk” to raise awareness of victims of sexual assault and rape on Nov. 17.

The demonstration was organized by freshman Kayla Dearman. She said she is a victim of sexual assault and wanted to speak up for other people who go through this on and off campus. She wanted fellow students to show support for victims or to speak up for themselves.

There were about 20 people who attended this event, most of them students but also at least one faculty member was in attendance. They met up at the Mary Livermore Library and some of the demonstrators marched across campus to Cypress Hall, while the rest stayed at the water feature and amphitheater area to hold up posters with supportive messages or defiant statements.

Freshman Ja’Quel McNair was supportive of the demonstration.

“I feel like it definitely raises awareness of the situation,” he said. “Me being a man, I see how it really affects women, not only women but also men who go through sexual assault as well. I hope people continue to stop being silent to this situation,” he said.

“I hope to make this walk something we can do every year,” Dearman said. “I have been a victim, and I want to bring justice to this problem. I love how many people came together for awareness.”

Most of the participants brought posters that said, “It wasn’t our fault.”

Sexual assault takes place on many college campuses, and many victims will stay silent for many reasons. Often schools do not treat victims with the benefit of the doubt or resolve cases effectively.

“I have heard many people, especially women who go through these things on campus, and it is sad. I am here for support and to walk with the victims who have been through these tragedies. I feel like people feel alone but we are here for support,” freshman Laila Al-lahbi said.

According to UNCP’s annual crime report, reports of sexual assault increased on campus during 2020 even though there were fewer students on campus because of the pandemic.

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