Tampa, Florida - With posters that had messages like "Got Consent?" a petition, and a microphone, members of the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society of SDS rallied at USF on Thursday. SDS and other groups are trying to raise awareness about the prevalence or rape on campus and the causes behind the attacks.
"If we're going to end rape, we have to notice how it is happening," USF victim's advocate Nanci Newton told the couple dozen students stopping to listen.
The rally comes on the heels of two unrelated rapes inside campus dorms. In September, a woman was raped by a stranger and in October, the attacker was a male acquaintance.
No arrests have been made in either case, but USF police say both investigations are still active. "These are in the forefront; we continue to analyze anything that comes in," says Lt. Chris Daniel.
In the days after the rapes, there was a lot of talk about security issues, but today speakers urged USF to address the reasons why men feel violence is somehow Okay.
Women's & Gender Studies Professor Ednie Garrison told listeners that one expert describes the problem this way, "Rape Culture is regarding violence as sexy and sexuality as violent."
While the recent dorm rapes hit close to home for many students, for Danielle Leppo, who helped organize the event, the issue is deeply personal. "At the age of 12 I was molested by my stepfather. It took me ten years to even admit this," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
And Leppo and others believe change can happen, even if it starts with a poster.