As alumni made their way down Court Street to the bars Friday evening, students spoke from the courthouse steps about rape culture.
“Don’t let them make you feel uncomfortable in your own city,” Karinne Hill, a junior studying sociology-criminology and women’s gender and sexuality studies, said. Hill is a previous Post columnist. "Fight back in whatever way you can, in whatever way makes you feel safe."
For the 6th annual F--kRapeCulture march, the parade route changed and fewer people attended than in previous years, but the message remained the same.
The organization held the march to raise awareness as well as make its demands known. Demands included moving Counseling and Psychological Services to the former president’s house at Park Place and providing more funding to the Survivor Advocacy Program.
About 50 people attended the protest this year, down from about 100 people who attended last year. A core portion of F--ckRapeCulture left last year, according to Ruby Cochran, who helped organize this year’s rally.
“We do this protest in order to help raise awareness and combat sexual assault on campus, as it is a huge issue on campus and a lot of the times the administration doesn’t really tell the students that it’s happening and it’s kind of a thing that’s brushed under the rug,” Cochran, a junior studying business and accounting, said. “We just want more people, such as incoming freshman, to understand and find ways to be more safe on campus."
The march started at the bottom of Jefferson Hill, connected to Mill Street, then College Street and ended outside the Athens courthouse. At the courthouse, four people spoke. People shared their stories about sexual assault and street harassment.
F--kRapeCulture received a parade permit for the march. Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said the group coordinated with the police department and was fully compliant.
“I’m very thankful to them for bringing attention to this issue,” Pyle said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with.”
Cochran said the rally on Homecoming weekend is important for visibility due to the amount of alumni returning to Athens.
“It’s nice to show that students are still supporting other Bobcats through survivor advocacy,” Cochran said. “(With parents on campus), it also helps them raise awareness that this could be happening to their children and that it’s important to see that there are people on campus doing something about it.”
Rebecca Totton, a graduate student, said she would like to see accountability on both a personal and university level.
“I’m here because I feel like this matters, especially with the repeal of Title IX as the way that it was,” Totton said. “I think that this is something that needs to be even more vocal on college campuses than it has been the last few years.”
This article has been updated to clarify that Karinne Hill is a previous Post columnist.