UNC students raise money and awareness of sexual violence
Starting at the Old Well, some 300 University of North Carolina students walked past Wilson Library and before the reaching the Bell Tower veered back to where they’d begun, a mile-long circuit.
Co-sponsored by the Sigma Phi Society fraternity and the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the walk Wednesday evening raised money for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and raised awareness of sexual violence.
It was the fourth annual march of its kind but only the second time the rally bore the title “It's On US.”
Last year's rally raised $7,900 dollars for the Rape Crisis Center and this year’s proceeds were expected to slightly surpass last year's because the number of participants representing UNC campus violence prevention groups has grown, said UNC junior student and president the Sigma Phi Society Andrew Clark.
For the past three years, the participants had been almost exclusively members of UNC Greek life, Clark said.
Donations to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center were gleaned from sales of souvenir T-shirts and burrito and chip dinners prior to the walk — the food to be eaten afterward.
Fraternity men are three times as likely as any other group on a college campus to be the perpetrators of sexual assault, Clark replied. Sorority women are also more likely to be victims.
“If you look at the numbers, its pretty stark,” Clark said.
“As a member of a fraternity, that's something I find both disgusting and unacceptable,” Clark said. “As members of an institution that statistically makes us more likely to be perpetrators of violence, it's up to us to stop that.”
The event originated on the UNC campus when a member of Sigma Phi Society brought his concerns about sexual violence to his fraternity's attention, a frat brother telling others: “This is an issue that has affected someone I know who is very close to me and I know it's a problem in Greek life and we should use our organization to combat it,” Clark said.
Before the charitable quad-amble began, walkers listened to brief anti-violence messages delivered by speakers including Orange County Rape Crisis board president Hathaway Pendergrass and UNC Student Affairs Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff Christi Hurt.
Pendergrass said that the money raised by the rally would positively impact very staff member as well as every rape survivor who seeks help at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.
Speaking directly to any possible survivors of sexual assault in the crowd, Pendergrass said, “We see you. We hear your. And we believe you.”
Hurt said that an awareness of the ills of sexual abuse had grown tremendously since her time at UNC in the early 1990s and applauded the walkers for their efforts to end sexual violence.
Clark said UNC Greek life is in the midst of a change on its outlook on sex.
“The notion of a culture of a consent is slowly appearing in the community,” Clark said. “That being said, it’s evident by the fact the we are still doing the event that we are nowhere near finished. At least at UNC, sexual violence is still prevalent in the Greek community and it’s still disproportionately prevalent.”