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Student athletes stand up to sexual assault, hold flash mob in Central Mall

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Student athletes stand up to sexual assault, hold flash mob in Central Mall

The BIG EAST

The BIG EAST "It's on Us" event was held Oct. 24. Photo by Andrew Himmelberg.

The BIG EAST "It's on Us" event was held Oct. 24. Photo by Andrew Himmelberg.

The BIG EAST "It's on Us" event was held Oct. 24. Photo by Andrew Himmelberg.

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Over 50 Marquette student athletes gathered at the Central Mall outside of Lalumiere Language Hall to raise awareness for sexual assault and violence Oct. 24.  

Each student athlete participating in the event wore a T-shirt given by the BIG EAST Conference Student Athletic Advisor Committee which assigns universities in the conference ways to use their platform. 

Alex Gambacorta, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of the women’s lacrosse team, said that the event created a dialogue to encourage other students to get involved.

“It’s not a divide in athletes vs. students, it’s us as student athletes coming together with the student population and saying that this is a problem,” Gambacorta said. “We’re just using our voice to create awareness.”

For one minute, each athlete was frozen while three public service announcements from the It’s On Us campaign, a national organization to stop sexual assault, and one PSA from the BIG EAST Conference SAAC were read, creating Marquette’s flash freeze. 

Though there was no significance to the day the flash freeze happened, all BIG EAST schools participated in the event through the entire day of Oct. 24. Marquette’s SAAC chose the time of 12:20 p.m. because it worked for athletes’ academic schedules and figured it was a time that students would be passing from class to lunch. 

Monique Felix, a junior in the College of Business Administration and member of the women’s track and field team, said they had about one week’s notice to plan the flash freeze and coordinate with the athlete’s schedules.

The weather, however, was an issue. “Since it was a cold and rainy day, not many students were outside so it wasn’t as effective as it could have been, but the students who were, were questioning,” Felix said.

Standing for a minute was enough time to have the other students notice, Felix said.

“The point is to make people step back, stop and say, ‘What’s going on here?’ Because then they have to listen and look,” Gambacorta said. “That’s a way to get people’s attention and to make them stop in their tracks.”

As a part of Marquette’s SAAC board, Felix said she encourages everyone to sign the pledge on the It’s On Us website. 

“I don’t want to separate athletics to the general population,” Felix said. “I feel like we’re all susceptible to falling into traps of believing ideas around sexual assault on campuses and not being willing to speak out against it or talk about difficult topics like that.”

People who are in a position to make a difference should take advantage of those opportunities, Felix said. Being in athletics gives the opportunity to voice opinions not only through the students and administrators of Marquette, but also through the greater city of Milwaukee. 

One thing I want people to do is take that message and not just ignore it, but actually act on it,” Felix said.

Making sure that students everywhere know that sexual assault and violence happens everyday is something that Felix said she wants everyone to know.

With regards to seeing more, not every event SAAC participates in will pertain to flash freezes or sexual assault. “It’s just one small step in the right direction,” Gambacorta said. “Moving forward, hopefully there will be more attention and more conversation to change things.”

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