Westminster students march in SlutWalk for sexual assault awareness

More than 50 people marched to Capitol Hill to raise awareness about victim blaming, rape culture and slut shaming. Photos by Dannielle moriondo

More than 50 people marched to Capitol Hill to raise awareness about victim blaming, rape culture and slut shaming. Photos by Dannielle moriondo

Westminster students joined the march from Washington Square to the Capitol building downtown during the fifth annual SlutWalk on Oct. 3.

The rally included over 50 marchers, several speakers from Utah and informative tables from organizations such as the Rape Recovery Center, Students for Choice and the Westminster Feminist Club.

The Westminster Feminist Club participated in the SlutWalk to educate others on gender equality and show its support to survivors.

Originating in Toronto in 2011, the SlutWalk was a response to a Toronto Police Services officer who said that women could prevent sexual assault if they did not dress like a “slut.”

Carli Trujillo, senior and president of Westminster Feminist Club, said that this statement is very problematic.

One man who participated in the event holds his sign at Capitol Hill, advocating that more men get involved to help address rape culture.

One man who participated in the event holds his sign at Capitol Hill, advocating that more men get involved to help address rape culture.

“The most glaring objection that I have to this statement is that it places the blame of sexual assault/rape onto the person who experienced it, rather than the person who raped or assaulted the person,” she said.

This displacement of responsibility is known as victim blaming.

Representative Sandra Hollins, 23 district and speaker at the SlutWalk, talked about her experience witnessing victim blaming.

“My sister, when she was in her first year of college, was brutally raped one evening while on an event on campus,” Hollins said. “She was kidnapped and taken into an abandoned building and raped for hours.”

Afterward, her sister was subjected to victim blaming, which Hollins said was retraumatizing.  

In order to prevent more instances of rape and sexual assault from occurring on college campuses, Hollins said “it’s going to have to start with education.”

One form of sexual violence education and awareness on Westminster’s campus is Title IX’s required coursework.

Some students, though, do not believe it is an effective, educational tool.

Marlene Mercado, senior English major, said she is not happy with the way Title IX is managed on campus.

“I don't like the way Title IX is handled and marketed toward students,” Mercado said. “From a student's perspective, the online training feels like a chore.”

Mercado said that if Westminster developed a more hands-on experience such as an event on campus, students would benefit more from it.

“Small pamphlets and online training aren’t enough for heightening awareness and education about sexual violence on college campuses,” she said.

Student organizations at Westminster College have been using many outlets as a form of educating fellow students and the community.

Allisyn Thompson, senior arts administration major and director of the student production “The Vagina Monologues,” said she has seen “mass improvement” from Westminster regarding awareness of sexual violence since entering as a first-year student.

Thompson said “The Vagina Monologues” is a show that “empowers those who see it and those in it to step up against sexual violence against women.”

On-campus clubs such as the Westminster Feminist Club, Sociology Club, Students for Choice and V-Day are educating students with service learning projects, theatrical productions and panel discussions.

Westminster Feminist Club President Trujillo said her club’s main goal “is to heighten awareness about radical feminism and gender equality.” This includes discussing the common misconceptions associated with feminism, empowering all feminists at Westminster and in Salt Lake City and engaging in meaningful service projects within the community.

Auditions for “The Vagina Monologues” will be held in December. For more information on joining the Westminster Feminist Club or signing up for the email list, contact Carli Trujillo at cdt0412@westminstercollege.edu.