Burlington, VT – Champlain College students and faculty gathered in the courtyard to watch as campus advocates spoke out against sexual violence in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Sexual violence is not acceptable and we as a community must not be silent in the face of injustice and abuse,” said walkout organizer, Maiya Caterino.

Students spoke of their past experiences with different forms of sexual harassment, both on and off campus.

“These conversations must be had if we want to address these issues,” said Caterino.

Caterino notes 81% of women and 43% of men experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, and one in three women experience sexual assault.

“People we know are struggling. People we know do not feel comfortable eating lunch 50 feet away from their abuser. We must remember that no one is immune to abuse,” said Jilly Harte, the Director of Student Wellbeing with the College’s Student Government Association.

“Speaking your truth is not easy. By getting together and communicating with each other, by being truthful and honest, we can make changes and protect each other,” said Harte.

“We commend these students for standing up against sexual violence and creating a safe space for survivors to tell their stories and share their lived experiences,” read a statement from Champlain College.

“Over the past year, Champlain College has taken important steps to promote community safety, bystander intervention, and awareness of available campus resources and reporting procedures related to sexual misconduct and Title IX. We have increased campus resources for survivors of sexual violence, increased transparency of Champlain’s sexual misconduct process and the federal Title IX processes,” the statement reads.

“We know that speaking out is a powerful act of resistance, and no one can stop us from sharing our truth,” said Caterino.