The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held a march from Reed Gym to Davis Field last Wednesday to help raise awareness for the sexual assault problem on college campuses and across the United States.
The march was part of SAAC’s sexual assault awareness week. ISU students and Pocatello community members came out to show their support by marching and tying a ribbon to the fence at Davis Field.
“It’s important to raise awareness for men and women who have experienced tragedies,” said ISU student Sydney Normand. “It’s important that we stand together.”
Several of those in attendance at the march said they have personally experienced sexual assault and harassment and wanted to come to the march to show solidarity with others who had similar experiences.
One of these people was Liz Breuker, the secretary of the Armed Forces Club at ISU and a survivor of military sexual trauma.
“It happens in the military and no one talks about it,” Breuker said. “This movement put a face to the cause.”
When she was punished for her assault and her attackers were promoted, she realized she wanted to do something to help, she said. Breuker’s husband and children also attended the march to show support.
Sexual assault has been more prominent in public discourse over the past several years, with several prominent men and women in positions of power facing accusations and being forced to step down from their positions. The upheaval has brought the pandemic to the forefront of Americans’ attention.
“Now is the time for change,” said SAAC co-president and former ISU soccer player, Jen McCaw.
She said she hoped that the conversation would encourage more people to voice support for survivors and that the march and other events would prompt people to become, “more active bystanders” in preventing sexual violence.
“If we end up saving or helping one person, it’ll be worth it,” McCaw said.
McCaw, and co-president Erik Nakken, an ISU basketball player, and the other members of SAAC all took part in the planning of the events for Sexual Assault Awareness Week.
“It’s a big deal, especially in a society like this,” Nakken said.
The recent media attention focused on sexual assault prompted many of those at the march to attend. Music performance major Jake Knievel came to the march with hopes of helping increase our society’s understanding of sexual assault and consent.
“More and more people, big name people, are not making sure consent is involved,” he said.
Knievel said he thought helping people understand the importance of consent could help combat sexual assault.
Several people at the march said they would like to share a message with victims of sexual assault or harassment: “You are not alone.”