By Genevieve Bookwalter
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Organizers of the “Stand with Survivors” demonstration at Northwestern University say the rally was to support survivors of sexual assault, condemn recent sexual assault allegations at a Northwestern fraternity and challenge the institutions and environments that facilitate that type of violence.
The hundreds of marchers from Northwestern University were loud and raucous Friday as they rounded Sheridan Road in Evanston, chanting for the removal of a NU fraternity where alleged sexual assaults occurred in January.
But the crowd soon stood silent, and listened with rapt attention as student after student told their stories of being sexually assaulted.
The Stand with Survivors, as the demonstration was officially called, followed the announcement of drugging and sexual assault allegations at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house and another, unidentified fraternity.
The march started at SAE’s Northwestern chapter house and ended about a mile away near its national headquarters.
It was billed as a rally to support survivors of sexual assault, condemn the assault allegations and challenge the institutions and environments that facilitate that type of violence, organizers said.
Some of the speakers, describing their own experiences of sexual assault, said they knew their attackers. Others didn’t.
Some talked about an ex-boyfriend, others a stranger, maybe someone they met earlier at a party, or a mentor at work.
For one it happened as a child. For some it had happened multiple times.
One woman shook as she talked, the paper she read from quivering in her hand. Many on stage and in the audience wiped away tears as they told and heard the stories.
The message, over and over, was that it was not the survivor’s fault a person was assaulted. It was always the perpetrator’s, regardless of what someone was wearing or how much they had to drink or whether they had lost track of their friends that night.