A group of about 35 students gathered outside the Student Union Monday afternoon in solidarity with sexual assault survivors. The Coalition to End Rape Culture (CERC) hosted the rally to promote a Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which aims to protect, assist, and support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Priya Ghosh, a public health major and president of CERC, explained that the process of reporting an attack is long and that assailants often remain at the university with no penalties.
“This is not right,” she said. “If you are assaulted and decide to report it, you should be able to do so without seeing your assailant. These are basic human rights that we believe all students should have.”
Andrea Nyamekye, a sophomore natural resources conservation major, agreed. “It’s very uncomfortable and triggering to be in an environment with your perpetrator. Especially when the school doesn’t help,” the CERC member said. “The school should be there for survivors when this is happening.”
Students shared personal experiences and stories at the rally and asked for the university’s help. They carried signs and mattresses, channeling the Carry That Weight campaign started by Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz last year.
Ghosh and CERC Vice President and sociology major Liz Mungovan led students to the Whitmore Administration Building where they presented a petition for the Survivor’s Bill of Rights to Chancellor Subbaswamy.
“We will no longer tolerate these fundamental rights to be violated at our college,” said Mungovan as supporters applauded. “We are here to demand that UMass administration develop a bill of rights.”
Email Katie Bowler at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @bowler_kathryn.