Sexual assault rally unites to stop local violence

Dora McQuaid speaks during the rally at while Dawn Stauffer (graduate-human development and family studies) and Sacha Brown (senior-English) comfort each other.

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Outrage against sexual assault was the focus of a rally Friday afternoon on the steps of Old Main.

"This rally was organized because over the past month I have been horrified about the things that have been happening on campus," said Molly Zuckerman, co-director of Womyn's Concerns.

The rally, attended by about 100, is the beginning of a sexual assault awareness campaign, Zuckerman said.

"I want everyone to be involved because this is everybody's problem," Zuckerman said. "People can try to ignore [sexual assault] but it will still happen all around them."

Speakers talked about personal experiences and gave assault statistics.

"I am outraged with what's been going on with date rapes and acquaintance rapes," said JoAnna Moyer, the director of the women's health department at University Health Services. "I have been outraged for a long time."

Moyer said she has had many students tell her they are scared on campus, and they didn't think assaults would happen in State College. "If that doesn't outrage you, then you must not have a heart," Moyer told the crowd.

She said it is probably easier to be outraged about stranger cases, but people should remember that sexual contact without consent is always wrong.

The director of the Center for Women Students, Peggy Lorah, voiced similar opinions.

"If you are angry, if you are outraged, then get involved," Lorah said. "Turn your anger into action, there are things we can all do [to stop assaults]."

Assailants need to be held accountable and the victims need to have support, she said. "People don't lie about being victimized, there's no reason to do it. We have to make it safe for her to come forward," Lorah said.

David Waterstram, a member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, agreed. "I just wanted to be a male supporter against sexual assault," Waterstram said. "I think males are underrepresented [as supporters]."

Tatiana Diaz, co-organizer of the rally, was happy to see both male and female supporters.

Dora McQuaid, a local activist and instructor at Penn State, said sexual violence is caused by the violence in our society.

"The only way we are going to see any movement is to stand together and share our stories, and demand a response," McQuaid said.

Together we can build a community, but alone we don't, she said.

"When we are victimized we tend to believe we are utterly alone, we often isolate ourselves thinking no one else understands, or they deserve what has happened to them. Nobody is broken and nobody should be blamed for being victimized."