Vigil held for campus sexual assault survivors - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vigil held for campus sexual assault survivors

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A vigil was held on Tuesday to show support of sexual assault survivors. Students and community members came together to light candles in solidarity while survivors shared their stories.

Organizers said it was also a way to show support to the 'Dear Colleague Letter' portion of Title IX that was put in place in 2011 under the Obama administration. It was meant to put responsibility on schools to investigate campus sexual assaults, rather than let the responsibility lay solely with police.

"Suddenly we had survivors speaking out and fighting for their rights. People knew what their rights were. Universities and schools were changing their procedures and their policies," Emmalyn Brown, University of Iowa student and vigil organizer, said.

Brown, a sexual assault survivor, said it's important to show the impact that Title IX has had on survivors. That's because last month, Betsy DeVos announced they would be revoking the guidelines, citing that it denies due process for those accused of assaults.

It's a move survivors, like Brown, believe is a bad one.

"My fear with the revocation of those letters and those guidelines is that we'll go back to an era where survivors aren't believed, their rights are taken away," Brown said.

The vigil comes right after a social media campaign called "Me Too" swept across the internet. Posts made mostly by women posted "Me Too" to indicate that they have experienced sexual harassment or assault. The movement comes after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, "Suggested by a friend: If all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "me too"  as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

"I think the 'Me Too' campaign is great. I think it gives survivors a voice. i think that it has helped in a lot of ways I think it also shows that survivors are not a lone and that they can speak out and that they can be heard," Brown said.

Gatherers at the vigil signed 29 State of Iowa flags to be sent to the 29 Senators who have shown support of the Title IX guidelines.

"We want to send them these flags as a thank from us, from Iowans, from the University of Iowa to thank them for their support of sexual assault survivors and to ask them for their continued support in the future," University of Iowa student Kalena Meyer said.

In a survey done at the University of Iowa last year, 3,000 students filled it out. In it, 1 of 5 female undergraduate students reported being raped since coming to campus.

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