ORONO – University of Maine students and administrators were encouraged Thursday to continue efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence.
About 150 students, staff, and faculty attended UM’s Take Back the Night March and Rally with a mission to show support for sexual violence victims and those working to end such violence.
The event was hosted by The Student Women’s Association and The Safe Campus Project.
“It’s unfortunate that we still have to have events like this, but sometimes things don’t change as fast as we’d like them to,” rally committee member and UM student Rachel Zawacki said.
Representatives from Rape Response Services, Spruce Run, and several UM organizations including Male Athletes Against Violence, All Maine Women, Athletes for Sexual Responsibility, and The Safe Campus Project spoke Thursday, in addition to U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and keynote speaker State Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono.
“It affects all of us whether we know it or not,” Cain, a 2002 UM graduate, said. “Statistics show we all probably know somebody … and those are just the reported ones.”
She noted that sexual violence is everybody’s problem and that the need for awareness is every day, not just at events like Thursday night.
Michaud agreed, and added that political figures at all levels of government should be held accountable for their actions and positions on such issues.
“You can’t end here, you have to continue pushing it forward,” he said. “If we are ever going to change the way this nation, this world is changing, we have to be open with each other. We have to make sure that we’re there for one another.”