(KSNT) – Students all over northeast Kansas and the Midwest are banding together against sexual assault, with protests from University of Kansas, Kansas State University to University of Missouri, and even University of Missouri-Kansas City. The coordinated rallies all began with a movement here in northeast Kansas.
Tuesday’s events were meant to do two main things: honor the stories of sexual assault survivors and ask for more prevention education at higher education institutions. The call for rallies at multiple campuses came after September protests against an alleged sexual assault at KU’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.
While the Tuesday rally idea began with KU, they did not stick to the night’s original plan. The founders of the Strip Your Letters organization said faculty and administration like provosts did participate, changing their plans on the spot. The founders decided to have a private, more intimate conversation with them, closed off to media, instead of a protest inside Strong Hall.
“Strip Your Letters is founded on empowering people and giving a voice to people who do not have a voice,” co-founder Anissa Brantley said. “People of color, disabled folks, the LBGTQ+ community, people like that, sexual assault survivors.”
According to Sara Haggard, the Kansas State student government’s sexual assault prevention and awareness director, the money budgeted for prevention education and resources for survivors is lower than the national average.
Additionally, there is only one prevention specialist at Kansas State, who is not permanent, whereas the University of Kansas has six of these roles on its campus. Haggard also said they hope to see Greek life officially integrated into the university again.
Greek life is not currently acknowledged by the administration at Kansas State, a decision made by the university’s President Richard Meyer, according to Haggard.
“When incidents of sexual assault occur in Greek life houses, it’s investigated by students and not the office we have dedicated to investigating these cases. It’s bad for both the students investigating and the students subject in that case,” Haggard said. “We want to encourage K-State to re-acknowledge Greek life so that we can help those students, and kind of eliminate that conflict of interest we currently have.”
Multiple organizations were represented at the rally at Kansas State, included Wildcats Against Sexual Violence.
“I started it in 2018 a year about after I was raped my freshman year in Haymaker Hall on campus,” founder Paige Eichkorn said. “I just wanted to meet other survivors and give them a voice.”