EDITORIAL: As long as women are mistreated, there will always be a need for SlutWalk


OWLS-24

Farmington Hills senior Saceila Gonzalez and Grand Rapids junior Autumn Pinkley march during the Organization of Women Leaders' Slutwalk 2018 on CMU's campus on April 22.

On April 22, nearly 200 people took to the streets to march in the annual SlutWalk.

The event is not unique to Central Michigan University. SlutWalk is a transnational movement that protests rape culture, street harassment and victim blaming. The marches are meant to highlight the culture that surrounds sexual assault and rape — namely, the culture of explaining away the event, or framing the traumatic incident solely as the fault of the victim.

When we initially reported that our SlutWalk was postponed due to weather, there were some people questioning the need for this event.

SlutWalk is more important now than it ever has been before.

In an era of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp (and, while not a movement, a hard emphasis on the Larry Nassar case), America is in the throes of a revolution. We are calling out the harassers and sexual assaulters of the world. A spotlight has been aimed on rape culture, showing everyone that this will no longer be tolerated or kept quiet.

At CMU, our SlutWalk hits a little closer to home.

Our students, faculty and staff are marching not just for those who have come forward about being raped or sexually assaulted at CMU, but for those we don't even know about.

As we've hammered home the last couple of weeks, we don't even know how many people that encompasses. CMU will not even release the numbers of the amount of people who have filed sexual harassment or assault complaints. 

We know because we've tried. 

We know because the CMU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists have been told the information is none of our business due to it containing "embarrassing" material. If you haven't been reading our coverage, CMU was the only school in the Mid-American Conference to outright deny a request for sexual assault and harassment complaints filed for via a Freedom of Information Act request.

At CMU, our SlutWalk takes on a whole new meaning.

Our SlutWalk, while still largely being put on to raise awareness about rape culture and harassment, is also for a university that refuses to bring attention to a very real problem of college sexual assault. Our SlutWalk is to call attention to the fact that instead of being transparent about this issue, CMU would rather sweep it under the rug and pretend like it has the best interests of students at heart.

If they really did, they would release the number of complaints filed. If they really did care for students, they would be open about the locations of sexual assaults that occur on campus. Because at the end of the day, telling the community about these numbers wouldn't just serve to be in our best interest — it would be in the best interest of CMU as well.

Once it becomes apparent the scope of the problem at CMU, both our Mount Pleasant and university community can work together to address the problem. Whether that's the addition of streetlights in a dimly lit corridor of campus or letting students know at orientation how they can file a complaint within the Title IX office, we can work together — as a community — to help stymie the problem.

This is why we still host SlutWalk: For those who have been sexually harassed, for the people who have been raped and for the students who have been the victims of rape or sexual harassment that the university will not be forthcoming about.

If CMU won't shine a spotlight on it, its students will.

We support them in their efforts, because we know — on a different level — we're fighting that same fight, too.

Thank you to those who marched on Sunday. 

You're fighting the good fight.

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