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Let’s Talk About Protests Happening on American College Campuses

Warning: This story has mentions of sexual assault, violence, and rape culture which could be triggering to some readers.

Almost a month has gone by since the protests that took place on our very own college campus against the toxic rape culture surrounding fraternities. The outrage was prompted by claims of someone being sexually assault by a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. What fueled the protests was the fact that this has been going on for years at UMass and nothing seems to have changed. Large numbers of students came out to protest this toxic culture of victim-blaming and the fact that the college has not been taking these reports seriously. It was a proud moment to see so many people come out to show their support and fight for a better system to protect college students. While this large-scale protest seems like an isolated scenario, it unfortunately isn't. Since the beginning of the school year, students all over the United States have been protesting against sexual violence and demanding justice on college campuses.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is one of the latest colleges to join the long list of campuses protesting rape culture on their campus. A month ago, an article in the Lincoln Journal Star, found that the number of on-campus sexual assaults reported to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police doubled in 2020 over the previous year. Not even two weeks later, there were mass protests against a fraternity at UNL over sexual assault allegations that led to them being suspended for the next five years. Northwestern, University of Iowa, University of Delaware, University of Kansas, University of Southern California, and Eastern Michigan University are just a few that have recently protested against the toxic culture surrounding frat parties. Protesters are also accusing their schools of doing little to nothing to protect students and being too lenient on those who are accused. A lot of these protests have been happening during what's known as the “red zone” which is the period between the start of fall classes and the Thanksgiving break, where over 50% of campus sexual assaults occur. Just because these protests aren’t going on everywhere doesn’t change the fact that the sexual assaults and violence aren’t taking place on other campuses.

Movements such as #MeToo have allowed survivors of sexual assault to realize the impact of their voices which is being displayed across America right now by brave students. I found out about most of these protests through TikTok. Protesters and organizers are using social media platforms to bring these issues to light, and we are seeing protests taking place on a large scale. It’s about time that the concerns and needs of students are being heard loud and clear by administrators after years of silencing students. 

In a couple of weeks, news of these protests might die down, but that doesn’t mean we should actively stop conversing about how to create a safe environment for all students. We need to keep pushing administrators to implement better systems on campuses so that when incidents like this take place, there are consequences for perpetrators' actions. Administrators also need to actively ensure that fraternities on campus are not perpetuating cycles that reinforce rape culture.

Whether you are a silent or loud survivor, know that there are always people who are going to support you! If you know someone who has unfortunately been through something of this nature, make sure they feel loved, not less than, and seek help if need be.

If you have had any experiences with sexual assault or just want to talk to someone since these topics can be triggering, you can reach out to the UMass Police Department or the Center for Women and Community.

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Anushka Myndapanda

U Mass Amherst '23

Anushka is currently a junior and majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science and Statistics. She loves to spend time with family and friends, reading books, staying active, and is passionate about climate change and sustainability. She was born and brought up in Dubai.
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