Students rally against sexual assault and rape culture

Stephanie+Skora+speaks+out+against+Rape+Culture+at+the+Rally+behind+the+Illini+Union.+September+23%2C+2016.+
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Students rally against sexual assault and rape culture

Stephanie Skora speaks out against Rape Culture at the Rally behind the Illini Union. September 23, 2016.

Stephanie Skora speaks out against Rape Culture at the Rally behind the Illini Union. September 23, 2016.

Lily Katz

Stephanie Skora speaks out against Rape Culture at the Rally behind the Illini Union. September 23, 2016.

Lily Katz

Lily Katz

Stephanie Skora speaks out against Rape Culture at the Rally behind the Illini Union. September 23, 2016.

By Ashni Gandhi, Staff Writer

Students Against Sexual Assault organized a survivor-centered event against rape culture as a call to action for the University administration as well as student body. The rally was held with support from Black Students for Revolution (BSFR), Women of Pride, Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) and many others.

January Boten, assistant dean from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, spoke about reporting incidences of sexual assault.

“I want you to know that my colleagues and I will treat you with the dignity and respect,” she said. “In the past few years, many students from across the country have come forward to tell how poorly they were treated by the officials that they met with at their university when reporting sexual assault. I want you to know that we are neutral fact finders.”

In depicting the process in which they gather information, she made it clear that they don’t judge and will remain impartial.

“We are not judging you, but want to get a full picture of what took place,” Boten said. 

                                         Video by: Daniel Baker

Jaya Kolisetty, a public educator with Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services, an organization aimed to combat the rape culture and creating programs for the students at the University, said RACES aims to combat different forms of sexual violence. 

“Now, unfortunately, due to the ongoing state budget impasse, we have had to reduce our services,” Kolisetty said. “I want you to know that we are still here, we are still standing.”

Kailah McGee, an organizer for BSFR, said the community needs to not only learn about consent but also teach about consent.

“White people, use your privilege and your voices to amplify the voices of people of color,” she said. “We must not allow the machine of rape culture to make us feel hopeless.”

Tyler Camp, president of the Campus Union for Trans Equality and Support, also suggested ways society can end rape culture through teaching about consent. 

“Ask your friends their boundaries, ask your kids before you pick them up. Respect their right to say no,” he said. “Consent culture needs to replace rape culture.”

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Renee Romano, said both students and administration have a role in reducing the frequency of sexual assaults on campus.

“We can change policies so that the student’s judicial system is more open and good for survivors,” she said. “We can support the women’s resource center in supporting these critical programs.” 

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