Utah students rally on ‘Start by Believing Day’ to raise awareness of sexual assault

Posted at 10:10 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 08:35:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Students from Westminster College and the University of Utah united on the U of U campus Wednesday night for a rally from one campus to the other.

"We have the right to feel safe at night!" chanted the students as they walked the two and a half mile stretch.

The first Wednesday in the month of April is called "Start by Believing Day." It's a day that Representative Angela Romero helped get officially recognized in the state of Utah back in 2015.

April was named Sexual Assault Awareness month by former President Barack Obama back in 2009.

According to Utah's Department of Health, one out of every three Utah women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, compared to one out of every four nationwide. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice says nearly two-thirds of victims will never come forward, afraid others won't believe them.

Students gathered Wednesday to try and fix that problem with a simple message, start by believing.

"If we can’t start by believing when victims come forward after an experience, then how can we do anything productive on this issue?” asked Leah Weisgal, who helped organize Westminster's student protesters.

Elsewhere in Utah, restaurant workers and managers got tips on how to prevent sexual assaults. According to Safe Harbor of Utah, half of sexual assaults involve alcohol. Most the time, that alcohol is purchased at restaurants and bars.

Safe Harbor spent Wednesday afternoon meeting with restaurant workers to tell them things they can do to help out. In one scenario, they discussed what waiters should do if someone orders a drink for someone else who's in the bathroom.

"Check in with that person and make sure they even want that drink," said Jess Burnham, spokesperson for Safe Harbor. "Something could be slipped into that drink, and maybe they feel like they are at their limit and so don’t even want another drink, but if it’s purchased for them they might feel obligated to drink it and then their boundaries will be lower.”