Culture

The Powerful Signs From Today’s #EndRapeOnCampus Student Rally

Students are firing up after yesterday's report.

sexual assault

This post discuses sexual assault.

Hundreds of students from universities across NSW marched from the University of Sydney to UTS today to express anger at the high rates of sexual assault on campus confirmed by yesterday’s Australian Human Rights Commission report.

The report revealed that 20 percent of university students had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting, and that 87 percent of those students did not report the incident.

The protest, organised by the National Union of Students in conjunction with Women’s Collectives from multiple universities, called for an end to rape on campus, and for university managements to step up and take real action to fix the problem.

“It is not good enough for universities to pay lip service to these demands in order to protect their reputation,” organisers wrote ahead of the event.

“The fight against sexual harassment and assault on campus does not end with the release of the AHRC report: it will continue until universities make real commitments to protecting students and responding compassionately to survivors.”

That message was powerfully distilled in the signs held by protesters at the event. Students, unions members, survivors and supporters marched with cardboard, paper and even mattresses bearing everything from demands to heartbreaking personal stories.

These signs are powerful messages direct from the student activists who have been campaigning to end rape on campus for years. Here they are in pictures:

A protester walks with a sign that reads “gang rape made me a disability pensioner at 21”.

Student Courtney Thompson holds a sign at the rally.

Students Liam Donohoe and Lane Pitcher march with a sign reading “we deserve a rape-free campus”.

Aidan Magro from USyd with a sign highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault in the queer student community.

A member of SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project) holds a sign that reads “Sex Workers Against Sexual Assault”. The Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Workers Association, was also present at today’s rally.

Mattresses bearing anti-rape slogans outside USyd’s Fisher Library. The USyd Women’s Collective prepared the mattresses as an homage to US Artist Emma Sulkowicz’s performance #CarryThatWeight, in which she carried a mattress around her university campus to protest the university’s refusal to expel her rapist.

More student signs. Their creators requested anonymity.

The protest ended with students chalking anti-rape messages outside UTS, ahead of their Clubs Day (similar to an Open Day) tomorrow.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.auIn an emergency, call 000.

Men can access anonymous confidential telephone counselling to help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour through the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

Sam Langford is a Junkee Staff Writer. She tweets from @_slangers.