Campus org brings sexual assault to the forefront at open mic

The Womanizers, Ziggy Gamble, a sophomore film major(right), Zachariah Beaver a freshman social work major(middle), and Kierstin Siegl, a freshman fine art major(left), were by far the strongest performers of the night and received the biggest response from the crowd (Colin Kerrigan/TTN).

Poets, spectators and folk musicians from every corner of Temple gathered last night, filling Saxby’s Coffee with music, information and applause to gather support for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Kate Moriarty, a senior women’s studies major and coordinator of the Women’s Studies Majors and Minors Association organized the event with the help of her coordinator’s team, which is made up of six other students.

Moriarty said organizing an open mic night to raise awareness about sexual violence was something she had wanted to do. She said when speaking with the coordinator’s team she put together, she asked them what issues were important to them.

“I asked them what issues mattered to them,” she said. “I said, ‘Here are the issues that are important to me,’ one of them being sexual violence, specifically on Temple’s campus.”

Many of Temple’s artists came to show their support, and for two hours, students performed original works of music and poetry.

Some of the pieces were relevant to the topic of the night, but many were not. Moriarty announced early that she wanted people to come and perform, regardless of what they were performing.

When Moriarty organized the event, she said she began with research on Temple’s policies on sexual assault and sexual harassment, and found that they weren’t up to date.

“I did some research. I found Temple’s statistics published in their Campus Safety manual. Statistics for sexual violence on campus double every year since 2005.” Moriarty said.

Per hundred thousand students, in 2005 there were 15.4 forcible sex offenses on Temple’s Main Campus. In 2006, that number increased to 29.8. In 2007 it was 54.

“So I started an all-out war on campus to raise awareness about sexual violence, because it’s happening on our campus and in our city,” Moriarty said

Moriarty and the Woman’s Studies Majors and Minors Association lined the walls of Saxby’s with colorful construction paper with phrases such as, “When I look at my daughter, I see his face,” “He told me it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I quit fighting it,” “I wasn’t asking for it,” “I loved him,” “It’s never the victim’s fault,” “I was only seven,” and “My mom didn’t believe me.”

In addition to the messages on the posters were statistics about rape and sexual violence. One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted by age eighteen. Every two minutes in America, someone is sexually assaulted and 98 percent of juvenile assault victims know their attacker.

After the last band performed, Moriarty said the night was a success. Throughout the evening, the group gave out more information, passed around petitions, and let students make T-shirts.

Moriarty said part of her motivation for organizing this event was to promote dialogue.

An intern at Philadelphia’s Rape Crisis Center, she also said that she has known victims of sexual assault and feels it happens far too often.

“One out of every three women. Just look around us,” she said, “It’s happening. It’s crazy, but we need people to start talking about it.”

Valerie Rubinsky can be reached at valerie.rubinsky@temple.edu.

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