A group of a few dozen individuals marched the streets of East Lansing Friday, yelling, chanting and holding up signs to spread awareness of sexual violence and assault for MSU’s annual V-Day March To End Violence.
The march was geared toward ending sexual assault and domestic violence incidents worldwide. According to previous State News reports, university officials say only one in five sexual assaults that occur on campus ever reach police or other officials.
President of MSU Students for Choice and V-Day co-director Marie Rose led the march, which stretched from the Rock on Farm Lane down Grand River Avenue toward the Kellogg Center.
“V-Day is a reminder for everybody to stand up and raise their voices and demand justice for women and girls around the world,” Rose said.
V-Day, a worldwide activist movement, was started in 1998 by “The Vagina Monologues” playwright and activist Eve Ensler. Last year, V-Day activists kicked off the One Billion Rising campaign, an initiative to symbolize the one billion women affected by sexual violence each year.
The march is a time to unify, V-Day Lansing co-director Bee Queener said.
“Violence stops people from having joy, and this (march) is for us to just be joyful and to experience love within each other and love for ourselves,” she said.
The event drew a surprising number of activists compared to last year’s march for the cause, Vagina Monologues incoming co-director Janelle Moulding said.
“(The best part) was seeing so many people come out and take time to bring recognition to a really relevant problem,” Moulding said.
Megan Wesner, a junior in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, attended the event to support her loved ones who are survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
She said one of the biggest issues with sexual violence is the fear of speaking about it.
“Unfortunately it’s not a thing that’s talked about a lot, and it’s a shame because it needs to be,” Wesner said. “I have a lot of friends that are afraid to speak out about it because they are afraid of being ridiculed, and that breaks my heart.”
The movement demands a change to protect women and girls — and the activists refuse to accept any less.
“We’re here to show that we’re not going to go away until it goes away,” Queener said.