More than 40 people rallied on Ho Plaza Friday to bring attention to an alarming U.S. Department of Justice statistic that one in every five women is raped during her college years. The event, which was called in response to the three reports of forcible touching incidents on campus, was sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center and stressed the need for “solidarity” within the campus community.
“We wanted this rally to be a platform for students to voice their anger with the recent increase in violence against women and let the administration know we want something done about it,” Eva Drago ’12, the organizer of the rally, said.
Many of the speakers argued that only through solidarity could violence begin to be prevented within the community.
“I value a community that holds accountable anyone who acts with violence. I appreciate the strength and encouragement this group gives to the victims of violence; in times like this we need to be more unified than ever,” Judicial Administrator Mary Beth Grant said at the rally.
Drago added that one of the hardest problems to deal with when recording violence against women –– and especially with race incidents –– is getting victims to speak up.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Half of all student victims do not define the incident as ‘rape’. This is especially true when no weapon was used, there is no obvious physical injury, and alcohol was involved.” More than 35 percent of women said they did not report the incident because they were unclear as to whether a crime was committed.
“Violence between men is highly publicized; people will talk about a bar fight but they won’t talk about a guy treating a girl badly,” Drago said. “There is so much shame and guilt associated with violence against women, it’s an invisible problem because people aren’t vocal about it”.
In attendance at the rally were not only women, but also men, administrators and representatives from the Greek, multicultural and LGBT communities.
“One thing I know about a problem such as violence against women is that we cannot help you unless you help us. Tell us when you have a problem,” Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 said.
Matt Danzer ’12 spoke on the importance of unity in also helping to prevent violence against women.
“Progress on this campus cannot be secured by any one group but by a combined effort. Violence against women is not only unacceptable but also unconscionable,” Danzer said.
Drago said she believes that by bringing all of the groups at Cornell together, major steps can finally be made to lessen violence against women.
“In the end, I hope we have reinforced a sense of unity,” Drago said. “It wasn’t a women’s rally, it was a solidarity rally. We need to face the issue of violence against women together, it’s time to stop pretending it’s not a problem.”