By Allison O’Reilly
Andrea Pino and Annie Clark are two women from very different backgrounds who went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in their time there, they both fell victim to sexual assault.
Pino, 25, and Clark, 27, eventually co-founded the advocacy group End Rape on Campus, which hosted a lecture in Hoff Theater Tuesday night.
Their lecture was centered around the aspects of sexual assault that are not commonly talked about. They shared glaring statistics, stating that in 2006 the Justice Department found that half of transgender people report being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. They explained how Title II, Title VI, Title IX and the Clery Act relate to campus sexual assault cases and went into detail about disability services for survivors, and students in general, suffering from mental illness.
Clark and Pino’s stories were made popular when they, along with other UNC students and alumni, filed a complaint against the university in January 2013 under the federal anti-discrimination law. They were also part of the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which talks about under-reported crime on college campuses.
“When I finally watched ‘The Hunting Ground,’ it just moved me so much and struck me so much that I decided that I was going to spread this message and become as involved in it as possible,” said SEE lectures director Michal Antonov. “Last semester, I brought Jessica Williams in and she talked about feminism and touched on some cases of sexual assault, but it was very important for me to get this, so when I saw that I was able to get Annie and Andrea to come, I was like ‘I’m gonna get them, this is what I’m going to do.’”
The speakers issued more than just facts, also offering insight on how to interact with survivors and acts of “Everyday Activism” that help to combat rape culture.
“I think the biggest lesson, and this is really important, was to look out for people, look for the warning signs in people who have gone through this kind of event – and make sure that they’re okay – just know what to do and get involved in any way that you can to prevent [sexual assault],” said, Antonov, a sophomore communications and government and politics double-major.
“I think [the speakers have] given us a lot of ideas,” said Colleen Connolly, a member of PSA and a senior kinesiology major. “We are activists in this community and I know they’ve re-sparked my activist mentality.”
Connolly said she is thinking of new ways to address the issues with the administration, instead of just students, to fully take advantage of the available resources.
“I think we forget that we do go to a university that has so many scholars and professors that are knowledgeable,” Connolly said. “I think we need to utilize them, as well as our own voices.”
Another PSA member, Erica Edney, was also encouraged by this event and what she learned.
“[Connolly and I] are obviously really passionate about the cause, and it can be really hard to get other people to be passionate about the cause, and that can be discouraging that we can really try and do something and it might not really get anyone’s attention,” said Edney, a senior Communications major. “But, things like this, where you see a good turnout, where you see new ideas and ways to possibly do things is just inspiring and keeps us going.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of teakwood’s Flickr account.
Allison O’Reilly is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.