First USF Slut Walk continues discussion about sexual assault

By Maria Ranoni, Staff Writer
On October 30, 2017

The Slut Walk sparked converstaion about rape culture around campus and worked to empower victims.
ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

USF’s first Annual Slut Walk sparked a conversation about sexual assault on campus with a march in protest of rape culture Monday afternoon.  

The event, hosted by Safe Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) USF and the Social Work Society, elicited stares from curious students as people dressed in “slutty” costumes and attire and marched from the Marshall Student Center amphitheater to Cooper Hall and back.

When the group returned to the MSC amphitheater, victims of sexual assault and abuse told their stories in front of fellow activists.

Kathleen Shrum, co-founder of Safe HOME USF and one of the organizers of the event, said the point of the walk is to raise awareness about sexual assault and rape culture.

“The event is really is to start a discourse about rape culture and all that entails,” Shrum said. “We wanted to have it at Halloween to raise awareness because a friend of ours was sexually assaulted at Halloween a few years ago during her freshman year and it has shaped her experience here at USF. So we wanted to start the conversation around rape culture and get people aware and get people in charge of their own safety here.”

Shrum said the event was inspired by this personal experience that she and the group have.

“(Recent sexual assaults) was part of what had inspired us,” Shrum said. “I had friends come to me and talk about their experience. I have personal experience with speaking out against rape culture and how difficult it was to do and I thought we had to have a larger conversation about this.”

There was little vocal resistance to the group’s message during the march.

“For the most part, we’re getting overwhelming support from faculty, from administration and from the student body,” Shrum said. “Everyone seems to be all for our message. If anything, people are a little shocked by our use of the word ‘slut,’ but the way that I keep talking to people about it is its one of those things that if you want people to listen, you want to be loud. Its something that’s used to kind of attack people in cases of sexual assault, so we’re taking it back.”

Brittney Glennon, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy, attended the Slut Walk and said the message was important.

“It is important to protest rape culture and to promote women’s rights because so many cases go undocumented,” Glennon said. “I think it had significant impact and helped the public become aware of these issues in a way that also entertains them.”

The overarching message of the event was to urge USF as an institution to take a harsher stance on campus sexual assault and ban students with these types of crimes on their records.

“Personally, we would like USF to legislate a zero-tolerance policy for campus sexual assault,” Shrum said. “That would just say that any person who was convicted through the school’s student’s Rights and Responsibilities (Office) or through the local government of assaulting another student on campus, they would be immediately and permanently removed from all USF systems.

“That’s just basically saying if you commit campus sexual assault, you have no place in our university system. That’s our ultimate goal.”

Shrum said Safe HOME USF hopes to continue having the event throughout the years.

“We put ‘First Annual Slut Walk,’ because everybody wants this to continue to be something we rally around,” Shrum said. “Even if USF does institute a zero-tolerance policy, it’s not going to eradicate rape on our campus, so that’s on us as the student body."

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