Nationally the month of April is officially named Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including Keene State College.
Take Back the Night and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes were just two of the events KSC held in support of sexual assault awareness.
Take Back the Night is a time of raising awareness for those who have been survivors of sexual assault.
The KSC Feminist Collective invited survivor, activist, and author, Erin Merring, to tell her story.
“This is my job to give a voice to the voiceless,” Merring said.
Merring has been on Good Morning America and Oprah. She recently put her law, Erin’s Law, into effect in Chicago and hopes to go national with it.
“My mission now is to get this passed in 50 states,” Merring said.
Merring has written two books, “Stolen Innocence” and “Living for Today.” In each book she speaks about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child.
“My life is not defined by evil, but how I have risen above evil,” Merring said. “The best gift you can give yourself is breaking your silence.”
President of the Feminist Collective, Missy DeLillo, said she and the other members of the Feminist Collective have put the event on for the past five years.
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“I do this for friends, and I am lucky to be part of the Feminist Collective,” DeLillo said. “I have had many friends who have been sexually assaulted or raped.”
The Anthropology and Sociology Club assisted the Feminist Collective with Take Back the Night.
President of the Anthro/Sociology club, Steve Gonzalez said Take Back the Night is a powerful event because people who haven’t spoken out, now can.
“Our campus should be safe. In some ways it’s safe, but in other ways there is a frat mentality,” Gonzalez said.
Take Back the Night started off with an opening ceremony and proceeded with Merring speaking and then sign making. By 8:30 p.m., men and women of the KSC and Keene community walked down Main Street chanting towards a vigil.
“This is such a great event and so important,” Gonzalez said.
First year student Chloe Marchand said she attended Take Back the Night because she took a women’s study course and enjoyed it.
“Awareness needs to be on the rape-myth, a lot of the time it’s someone you know,” Marchand said.
More awareness was raised during Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. Walk a Mile is an event put on by Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention in collaboration with KSC.
The event started on April 16 at 10 a.m. with an opening rally followed by a rally onto Main Street with men wearing high-heels to support women.
Event coordinator Robin Christopherson said this is the fifth annual Walk a Mile at KSC.
“Sexual assault awareness month is April. This is a way for men to get involved and raise awareness,” Christopherson said.
KSC raised a total of $20,000 for MCVP. Christopherson said it is especially important for non-profit organizations to have places like KSC during the times of the recent budget cuts.
T-shirts were given away that read, “Put Yourself in Her Shoes,” and hand-made posters read, “I am man enough to walk a mile.”
Senior Jon Donais wore women’s heels and said he is doing it to promote equality on campus.
“Pretty comfortable compared to what I was being told,” Donais said about his heels.
Donais is a part of the Feminist Life Living Learning Community [LLC] in Pondside III.
Cheshire County Department of Corrections superintendent, Richard Van Wickler, said he attends the event every year.
“I do it every year to represent two classifications, women in the military and inmates,” Van Wickler said.
He said a lot of the women inmates are victims of rape and sexual assault.
Student Body Vice President Colin Daly said he was amazed at the amount of community support KSC has. He said KSC helps whenever it can.
“We as a college support the town,” Daly said.
Senior Jessie Williams from the Counseling Center said this year the college raised more money than last, especially the athletics, sororities, and fraternities.
“A lot more support from Greek organizations occurred this year,” Williams said.
Meredith Shepherd can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org