WEB EXTRA: Student organizations raise awareness about rape, sexual assault at annual event

by Sean Redding

About 50 students and several student organizations gathered in Kogan Plaza Wednesday night to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault at the annual Take Back the Night event.

Sponsored by the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the event was also co-sponsored by the Student Association, Program Board and Allied in Pride.

"These issues are a major problem in American society, and are not a problem we can continue to ignore on campus," said Maxine Fertig-Cohen, the FMLA member in charge of the event. Fertig-Cohen said she doesn't think people realize the magnitude of this program on the GW campus.

This year's event fell during Allied in Pride's "Pride Week" according said Allied in Pride President Megan Foster, a sophomore. She said raising awareness about sexual assault was especially important to the lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual community.

"Sexual assault in the LGTB community is especially underrepresented, and often trivialized, in the media," said Foster. Nearly all organizations involved stressed that sexual assault is a problem on the GW campus.

"I am constantly shocked by the number of women on this campus that I meet that have been sexually assaulted or raped," she said. Speakers included representatives from the University Counseling Center, the D.C. Rape Crisis center and Britney Hoffman of Gender PAC, a national organization that works to stop discrimination caused by gender stereotypes. Hoffman said that society places limits and expectations on the specific genders that can contribute to sexual assault.

Representatives from the various organizations co-sponsoring the event spoke as well, including Lamar Thorpe, GW Student Association President. Thorpe, a member of the FMLA, spoke about his mother, who was sexually assaulted. Thorpe said it is important for people to share their personal stories regarding rape and sexual assault.

"(My mother) has always told me not to be ashamed of my past," said Thorpe, a senior. He said that the SA is working on introducing preventative measures on campus and working with Georgetown University to educate young males about stopping sexual assault.

Representatives from the University Police Department, GW STAND and other groups spoke as well. The event also offered an open mic, a march around of campus, and musical performances from The Vibes and the Pitches, student acapella groups. It concluded with a candlelight vigil.

Some GW students attended the event without having an affiliation with any of the sponsors. Sophomore Emily Morison said she heard about the event in a Women's Studies class. She said she came to learn more on the topic and she was impressed with how many groups were a part of the event.

"They have a lot of groups funneling into (the event)," Morisson said. "I think the most important thing is that they exist."

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