Third annual Slut Walk brings awareness of rape culture to UCF campus

Photo by Shayla Phillips. Bystanders listen as speakers talk during the Slut Walk event hosted by College Democrats at UCF on Wednesday outside of the Student Union.

“Hey-hey-ho-ho, we understand that no means no” echoed through the John T. Washington Center where bystanders watched the line of students marching behind to chants that brought awareness to rape culture on college campuses.

“Slut Walk is incredibly important because it helps dismantle a [rape] culture,” said speaker Ashley Joyce-Nyack, 21, senior political science major.

Slut Walk is an annual event hosted by College Democrats at UCF to bring awareness to sexual assault, rape culture on college campuses and victim blaming. Partnering with UCF Victim Services and Planned Parenthood Generation Action at UCF, the event took place on Wednesday in front of the Student Union.

There were speakers from the organizations and also students who were victims of sexual assault and willing to share their story.

Kaitlin Coley, junior public administration major, was one of the victims who stood on stage to tell her testimony.

“I have experienced rape culture first hand … my university lets him off easily,” Coley, 21, said. “He was sanctioned with a three-semester suspension, a paper to write, along with other mediocre micro-punishments. He is now eligible to return to the university, and I feel as though my safety is compromised.”

Coley is a member of the National Organization for Women at UCF, which created a petition to change UCF’s sexual misconduct policy. Her experience and participation in three Slut Walks sparked this interest in legislation change here at UCF.

“We need significant punishments for those found in violation of sexual misconduct,” Coley said. “Rape is criminal, so it would be nice to see it treated as such.”

She and others like her are not alone. One in four women will experience sexual assault on college campuses during their academic career according to a campus sexual assault survey from the Association of American Universities where they surveyed responses from 150,072 students at 27 schools. An event like Slut Walk “encourages others to speak out against telling people that they’re at fault for being sexually assaulted due to what they wore,” according to Slut Walk’s event Facebook page.

In conclusion to the speeches, onlookers were encouraged to grab a sign and participate walking in solitude from the UCF Patio Sound Stage to the Reflecting Pond.

“It’s important that victims know that people aren’t just going to stand by,” said Julia Jordan, 20, sophomore English literature and political science major.

Jordan is the College Democrats at UCF director of political affairs and host for the event who said that “an event like this gives victims a voice.”

“I had a friend go through a sexual assault recently, and an event like this shows unity [on the] UCF campus and students,” Crystal Ramirez, 19, freshman biomedical sciences major, said after attending the march. “It shows a lot of support from the campus.”

If someone has been impacted by crime, violence, or abuse, call UCF Victim Services at (407) 823-1200.