Hundreds of students gathered outside of Compton parking lot on March 15 for the “Not on My Campus” march. Organized with the intention to raise awareness for multiple injustices spanning across the campuses and communities of our nation, the march reminded all involved to work together towards a more peaceful tomorrow.
The march itself was planned as an event for Edinboro’s Greek Week festivities. With all the surmounting tension escalating regarding the ethical misgivings of fraternities and sororities in the media, the march was held to counter the negative attention Greek life has recently encountered.
Leo Herrmann, a member of Theta Chi and a key figure in the “Not on My Campus” initiative, said that the idea for the march came from collective organizations that wanted to make a change.
“We started out because we sat down as leaders of our Greek organizations and we decided what was happening on the national level was not okay. We decided to take our stand. We were tired of bad headlines. We decided to show students on our campus that we don’t accept those things on campus and we want to show other schools that they can have a kind of school without everything we intend to stand against.” Herrmann, a criminal justice major, stated that the organization is simply a group of people who have “common goals and common foes.”
The organization is recognized by the IFC and panel and is very open to volunteers. Herrmann’s background in criminal justice strongly influenced his actions in making the “Not on My Campus” march a reality.
“I felt strongly against sexual assault, domestic violence, racism and all other forms of discrimination. I saw an opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life. If one person reaches out to someone and people learn to recognize when these things are happening and stop them, then we have succeeded in our goal. We’re just Edinboro students trying to make a difference in as many people’s lives as we can.”
Ben Sarkozi, an environmental studies major and member of Phi Kappa Psi, was also a key leader who helped get the march off of the idea board and into action.
“I was genuinely proud of the turnout we had, because we had less than two weeks to put it all together,” Sarkozi said in an interview. “We’re hoping to make it an even bigger event in the future by making it a club.” Sarkozi would like to extend his gratitude to Phi Kappa Psi alumni brother Andrew Thomas, who is now a producer for the Erie Jet and Fox News division. “He helped us spread the word by getting us multiple interviews last week, which were last minute, given our time limitations,” Sarkozi explained. The energy brought forth by the leaders of the march certainly was contagious. Demonstrators appeared on scene with homemade signs and “Not on my Campus” inked on the palm of their hands with black Sharpie.
Edinboro student Sierra Brown, a social work major, carried a sign that read, “Live with purpose. Inspire the woman, impact the world.” When asked why Brown felt compelled to march, her answer was succinct.
“Rape and domestic violence are something that I have always felt strongly about. It disgusts me that when packing for college women will pack mace while men pack condoms.”
Brown also felt that the march accomplished its objective of raising awareness, but she would like to see more attention paid toward preventing rape in the first place.
“I don’t mean telling girls to travel in groups or telling guys not to drink. I mean speaking of prevention before there is even an argument. I’m talking about women overcoming the ‘weak’ mindset they were taught while teaching men to destroy the patriarchal influence they have on society.”
Passionate students like Brown along with members of the community, faculty and administration walked side by side, united by their passion to stifle injustice. The march began in Compton’s parking lot and diagonally snaked its way through the Edinboro campus.
As the crowd walked past buildings such as Doucette and Ross Hall, more and more students joined the crowd’s amorphous body.
The event concluded at the back doors of Pogue Student Center with camera crews and campus media at the scene to record the chants of protesters repeating loudly, “Not on my campus, not on yours!”
The event concluded with poetry readings by local women poets Luchetta Manus, Marisa Moks-Unger and Thasia Anne.
Each read poetry centered on bringing awareness to the social abuses that occur daily; a result of a society that propagates victim blaming, shaming, and ostracizing differences.
Perhaps the most moving speech was given by Edinboro student Bradley Hill, whose words were coupled with a silent crowd, and then thunderous applause.
From domestic abuse, to racial discrimination, the collective voice of Edinboro’s student body was clear: Not on my campus.
Emma Giering is the voices editor for the Spectator. She can be reached by firstname.lastname@example.org.