Event combats 'rape trail' stigma
The walkway along the Red Cedar River is a convenient path to class for many students. However, it suffers from an unfortunate nickname — the “rape trail.”
As a way of combating the nickname, the Residential College of Arts and Humanities Center of Poetry and the MSU Department of English hosted a poetry chalking event Monday. Students were encouraged to grab a piece of chalk — wrapped inside of a poem — and copy the poem onto the sidewalk.
Students also were encouraged to copy their own poetry. History senior Brandi Bates copied a text that a friend sent for her.
“I was having one of my weirdly terrible days, and I said something to one of my friends, and this was his response to me in a text message,” Bates said. “I don’t even know how he came up with it.”
The text read, “You are the best version of yourself you can be and no one should (ever) have to be anyone else.”
“I wanted to share something that someone actually said to me, because I think that makes it real,” she said.
Stephanie Glazier, assistant director for the RCAH Center for Poetry, believes the “rape trail” nickname is an old joke.
“It just feels like a real misnomer, and it feels like it’s disrespectful to the environment that we share and that we have everyday,” Glazier said. “We wanted to call that into question and inhabit the space differently.”
Visiting assistant professor for English Kristen Renzi helped organize the event with Glazier. Once she arrived at MSU, Renzi was caught by surprise at how normal students referred to the “rape trail.”
“(I) was surprised, baffled, when my students told me that this space is colloquially referred to as the rape trail, and I found it quite surprising that students said this without any sort of qualms,” she said.
“We want to re-articulate this communally as a space where a lot of other things can happen, which can be about healing or safety,” Renzi said.
Renzi added students typically respond well to the chalking event.
“Most people who stop by are quite excited and interested to participate,” she said. “It’s pretty positive.”