North Texas Daily

UNT speaks out against sexual assault  

UNT speaks out against sexual assault  

UNT speaks out against sexual assault  
April 30
22:54 2015

Jordan Ottaway/Staff Writer

Integrative studies major Christy Medrano stepped up to the podium Thursday evening to deliver encouraging words before leading a march on campus to speak out against sexual assault. Her message was simple.

“We deserve justice,” she said.

Hundreds of students and community members gathered in the Library Mall from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for Take Back the Night, an national movement put on by the UNT Speaks Out Campaign. A couple of students, including Medrano, spoke about their experiences of being sexually assaulted in the past.

UNT planned to hold the event earlier in the month but instead became one of 10 locations known as the 10 Points of Light. Each year, the national Take Back the Night organization designates ten locations across the country to simultaneously hold a march and vigil to show support for survivors and unity in their commitment to end sexual violence.

The other points of light are Carroll College in Montana; Central New Mexico Community College in New Mexico; Claremont Colleges and Scripps College Chapter of Choice USA in California; Fordham, Lincoln Center and Rose Hill in New York City; McHenry County College in Illinois; Moraine Park Tech in Wisconsin; Temple University in Philadelphia; Rutgers University in New Jersey and the University of Washington in Seattle.

Walking down Highland Street, the UNT crowd chanted slogans like, “Claim our bodies, claim our rights, take a stance and take back the night.” The march continued on to Welch Street, Maple, Avenue C and finished back on Highland at the Library Mall.

Integrative studies junior Tarryn Oliver, a member of the UNT NAACP, said that she was excited to be a part of the march because it created unity.

“Being able to come together and get together with other organizations and raise awareness about this makes it mean so much more,” she said.

The vigil following the march began with a moment of silence for those who have been sexually assaulted. Then SGA president-elect Adam Alattry shared a story about one male who was sexually assaulted by his football coach, with the intent of “changing the silent bystander.”

A resource fair was held during the first hour giving students the chance to learn more information about  groups that offer counseling. Groups like Dallas Rape and Crisis Center and Friends of the Family passed out information and talked to students about the services provided.

“At our outreach we usually see over 10,000 clients per year,” said Hillary Hightower, director of community education for Denton Friends of the Family.

Students had the opportunity to take pictures with signs that read “Drinking is not a crime. Rape is,” and “I pledge to speak out against rape culture.”

Kinesiology freshman August Johnson attended the event wanting to do more for not only sexual assault survivors but individuals with mental illnesses and other conditions as well. Both Johnson and his girlfriend were sexually assaulted and he said he liked being able to take a stand with her.

“Tonight made me think of my own experiences,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t do anything about it and sometimes you can, so regardless you have to try and talk to someone about it because you can’t always deal with it on your own.”

Featured Image: A sign that reads “no means no” is hoisted proudly in the middle of a marching group for Take Back the Night. Hundreds joined in the march through campus on Thursday night to stand up against sexual assault at the annual event hosted by UNT Speaks Out. Photo by Hannah Ridings – Staff Photographer

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