EAST LANSING, Mich. — During Halloween in 2016, Sharon Thomas, a human biology major at University of Michigan, was walking through the neighborhood of Cedar Village around 8 p.m. when a man called her from across the street. “He said, ‘Hey, baby, you look fine,’ then he ran over to me from across the road,” said Thomas. “I didn’t really register what he was doing at the moment.”
Thomas said the man ran up to her and grabbed her waist while complimenting her. She pushed him away physically, but she couldn’t get him out of her mind.
After The New York Times published a stunning article saying Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein has been sexually abusing various Hollywood actresses and models throughout his career, the discussion of sexual assault has surfaced to the front page news. The article stated that Weinstein, popular for movies like Django Unchained and Gangs of New York reached many settlements with women who accused him of sexual abuse. Actress Ashley Judd came out criticizing the producer saying he sexually assaulted her when she was a young, eager actress trying to break into the business. Judd is not the only actress that has come forward. Since then, actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale and 54 others have come forward with stories about Weinstein’s abuse. Alyssa Milano, popular for her role on King of Queens and Saved By The Bell posted on Twitter “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
A new grant from Governor Synder will help Michigan State combat sexual assault.
The 38-thousand dollar aid will go towards the MSU Bystander Network, a group that empowers people to take action if they see signs of sexual assault.
The network is working on an educational seminar for upperclassmen that they want to implement by the Fall 2017 semester. The class will build on the sexual assault workshops mandatory for incoming freshman. “It’s taking it a step further and building on that education,” says Leah Short, MSU Bystander Network project coordinator. When it comes to recognizing assault, Sergeant Andrea Munford of the Michigan State Police Department says that it’s important to trust your gut. “A lot of times, [people] may not recognize it for what it is, but they know they have a bad feeling about it,” said Munford.
Content Warning: Mentions of sexual assault, violent language and comments from survivors
On Nov. 6, sexual assault survivors and their supporters will be gathered at the State Capitol for a pre-election survivor sit-in from 4-6 p.m., with a candlelight vigil at 5:45. The sit-in is in protest of the existence of rape culture within this election cycle – one that is encouraging many survivors to vote. “I wanted a space to gather with fellow survivors and to show the Michigan community, especially our political leaders, that the state of our nation is not OK,” said Christine Babcock, co-organizer of the event and a Western Michigan University alumna. The weekend Donald Trump’s assault tape was released, the National Sexual Assault Helpline reported an over 30 percent increase in calls from survivors.