Dozens of organizers braved the noonday sun dressed all in black, rallying on the South Green directly in front of Memorial Hall and the center of one of the highest traffic paths in the whole university.
On Friday, May 4, the university’s It’s On Us Registered Student Organization (RSO) hosted a #MeToo rally on the South Green to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus and to show solidarity with victims.
The creator of the event was sophomore Nicole Lupo. Lupo herself was a victim of sexual assault and the idea for a rally came to her in February after she saw a presentation from the Tri Delta sorority about giving back to the community.
“That really hit home for me because I was at a time in my life where it had been just over a year since my assault and while I had overcome so much already, it just bothered me that our system was so broken and other people are going to experience being re-traumatized by the Title IX office as I was,” Lupo said. “So my crazy idea was to have a rally.”
As part of the rally, different organizations setup tables around the South Green including Survivors of Abuse in Recovery (SOAR), a non-profit that provides mental health services to victims.
“It [sexual assault on campus] is really rampant and that’s why events like this are important, it gives people a platform to speak about these issues,” said Suzie Ashby, who attended the event to raise awareness for the organization.
The main segment of the event was devoted to an open mic where people could come and share their stories or talk about their organization. The first speaker was Lupo, who talked about her assault, why she started the event and her difficulties with the university.
“My healing journey is what led me to start this event but there was a key element of support missing and that was the support of the university,” Lupo said.
She then went on to describe some of the problems with the Title IX investigation.
“The investigator never asked the respondents how they obtained consent, the most basic question of a sexual assault case… Since my case ended this Nov. after a total of nine months, the Title IX office has lost their only investigator, the head of the department has stepped down and tomorrow marks four years that the university has been under investigation for mishandling cases.”
Many of the speakers talked about the university and its relation to sexual assault and harassment. Rachel Silva discussed the university’s relationship with Stuart Grant. Grant, a named partner with the law firm Grant & Eisenhofer, has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct as part of a recent lawsuit. Grant had pledged a ten million dollar donation to the university as part of the construction of the new graduate school.
“After he was accused … UD is still moving forward with the donation from Grant,” Silva said.
Olivia Hayes, a senior, talked about her own assault and her difficulties with asking the university for academic help.
“When I asked for help I got nothing,” Hayes said.
A number of solutions were proposed by various organizations to curb sexual assault on campus. Chase Meadows, a representative from It’s On Us, discussed microaggressions and how they relate to sexual assault.
“It starts with little microaggressions like your friend catcalling a girl on the street,” Meadows said. “These instances of sexual assault contribute to a culture… We have to change the culture from the bottom up.”
Lupo discussed solutions at the national level.
“We need to get rid of abstinence-only education and teach about the legal definitions of what consent is,” she said.
The event drew a number of onlookers who stayed to listen to the speakers and go around to the various tables.
“I was walking by and I wanted to show my support… I feel like it [this event] created a lot of awareness for people,” junior Ryan Mullen said.
To survivors of sexual assault, Lupo said: “ You are stronger than you believe. You will be okay even if you aren’t okay right now and the only person you need to validate your feelings are your own. There’s a lot of support out there you just have to look.”