Students Show Support in Take Back The Night March

On Sept. 27, Ohio University students and Athens residents joined together at College Green for the It’s On Us, Bobcats rally and march in an attempt to put an end to sexual assault and rape on campus. 

According to The Athens News, since classes started in August, there have 14 reported rapes on campus. These reports sparked a surge in activism among students, including sororities and fraternities who hung supportive banners on their houses. Seniors Mary Ryznar and Erin Halpin even created a “Safe Walk Home” GroupMe with over 1,000 female students in it. 

Students Cody Shanklin, Mallory Golski and Hannah Burke decided to capitalize on this surge of activism by organizing the It’s On Us, Bobcats rally, a campaign dedicated to encouraging students to become better bystanders and help put an end to sexual assault. 

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network [RAINN], Golski says, more than 50 percent of sexual assault on college campuses occur during the first four months of the school year. Of those assaults, only 20 percent  of students decide to report it to authorities. 

“Despite all of these numbers, and all of the reports that we’ve received this semester, Ohio University isn’t more or less of a dangerous place to be than it has been in the past,” she says. “These numbers ultimately mean that more people are feeling empowered to report instances of sexual assault to authorities.”

As students marched up Court Street with signs reading, “Consent is Sexy” and “I will not go quietly into the night,” they are not only celebrating the courage of those who have reported, but are also calling their peers to action. After the march, during her rally speech, Golski made a point to emphasize that change starts with each individual in attendance.

“It’s on us, yes, as Bobcats to be better bystanders and take a stance against sexual assault,” she says, “But there is no ‘us’ unless there is a ‘me.’”

For freshman Lexi Garvey, It’s On Us, Bobcats was her first rally and march, explaining that the cause is something she is unapologetically passionate about. 

“I feel like people are getting more comfortable [with reporting] and they’re being more courageous, but it’s still happening,” she says. “That part needs to stop...the actual sexual assault and sexual harassment needs to stop.”

It’s On Us, Bobcats is the first step to making a change, but this is the beginning, not the end.

“I want to encourage you all to do more. This can’t be where it ends,” Shanklin says during his rally speech. “I want to encourage you all to be better activists, bystanders and overall Bobcats.”