I went to the consent march to show support for everyone and let them know they were not alone. "I'm so pleased to have Sonoma State support us to rally and gather here today to make a difference...The purpose of this event is to start conversations about education around consent because each of us has a responsibility to know how important consent is. We are creating a safe space, being heard, and believed," says Lauren Quinn, an SSU student, opening the March for Consent.
Sexual consent is an agreement people to participate in sexual activity. Before being sexual with someone, it is important to confirm that the other person wants to be sexual too. It is important to be honest and comfortable with your partner about what they want to do and also what they don’t want to do.
Driven by her anger at so many sexual assault reports in the first couple of weeks of school, Lauren Quinn took action and reached out to the University as well as the City of Rohnert Park to host the inaugural March for Consent. Like Lauren, I was deeply upset about the sexual assault reports as well and hoped the community, but also SSU, recognized how important consent is. I am also concerned about the safety of the students being sexually assaulted.
Many students on campus, campus sports teams, and Rohnert Park community members showed up. Additionally, Planned Parenthood, SSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and the Student Health Center (SHC) attended to show their encouragement and share information on their services.
The marchers walked for 3 miles from Rohnert Park Expressway, Snyder Lane, to East Cotati Avenue, and back to campus. While protesters walked, cars honked as they drove by rooting for them through their windows. Although I did not wear the proper attire since I did not know how long the march was, it energized me to see everyone’s positivity during the walk. Reaching the end, different speakers voiced their concerns about sexual assault and consent.
Lauren Quinn discussed her story, telling everyone about her sexual assault experience and how it impacted her. In her final notes to the crowd, she said, “You’re not alone. Tell someone. March for their story and make this march a safe place to share.”
Susan T. Pulido, the Confidential Crisis Advocate who works at CAPS, spoke her mind on how she felt about the march as I sat in the crowd. She hopes this will challenge college students to start a movement for the community of Rohnert Park.
Hearing her words, I felt empowered to take a stand for the people who experienced sexual assault. When I picked my college, I cared about my and other students’ safety. During the protest, I felt the safety I wanted to have. Due to the march, I hoped students will understand how important consent is and not assault others.
The mayor of Rohnert Park, Gina Belforte, shared her story of almost being assaulted and how she was also worried about her daughter going to college alone. She told the audience how her father had a saying of, "always having your antenna up," while going to parties and never put your drink down. It made me realize that many college students feel that they have to be extra careful during parties or while being alone. This shows how it is a problem that the victim can be blamed rather than the perpetrator.