By Vanessa Reis
For The Diamondback

More than 50 University of Maryland students rallied on McKeldin Mall Friday to support sexual assault victims, chanting "together we unite to reclaim the night."

Preventing Sexual Assault, an on-campus organization, organized the Slut Walk event to call attention to sexual assault on college campuses.

"Now more than ever it is our responsibility to show the administration that we are not going to stop fighting and not going to back down until real changes are made," said senior journalism major Cristina Johnson, who is also PSA president. "This change has to start with all of us."

The group aims to put pressure on this university's administration to "prioritize sexual assault and stand behind the survivors on our campus," Johnson said. This university has failed to address this epidemic, she added.

These issues are also under the spotlight with the country's presidential administration as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is changing campus rape policies.

This university has also made changes. Catherine Carroll, the director of this university's Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, no longer reports directly to university President Wallace Loh; instead, Carroll reports to the university's general counsel, Johnson said.

Some PSA members consider this change a demotion, as the school's general counsel is "not something sexual assault should be reported to," and it creates a "buffer between Catherine Carroll and Title IX," Johnson said.

Sexual assault survivors, advocates and those who wanted to show support for friends and family participated in the walk, taking steps towards changing campus culture.

"Sexual assault has always been an important part of my life," said Lizzie Mafrici, a freshman government and politics and women's studies major. "I've seen friends go through it."

This event provides a safe outlet for students without being directly affiliated with this university, said senior Alex Wilson, a cell biology major and PSA secretary.

"I'm just tired of it never being the rapists' fault, and it always somehow getting put back on the survivor," Wilson said. "This event means a lot to me because it's a way for us to let ourselves be known and let the campus know that it is never a survivor's fault."

Other survivors and those affected by sexual assault also said this event was an opportunity to share their stories and show support.

"It's really important to me because I have a friend who was sexually assaulted, and some people kind of put it on the back burner when it is a really important issue," said Erika Tarawallie, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences.

During the Slut Walk, participants also had the opportunity to write letters to Loh about taking action on sexual assault on this university. The group will continue this letter-writing campaign throughout the semester.

PSA was founded two years ago by McLaine Rich, an alumna of this university. Since then, the group expanded to an executive board of 10 people.

"Our main goal is to make the campus aware of how frequently this happens, and to educate people about consent and the aftermath of sexual assault," Johnson said. "We also provide an outlet for survivors to come together and be united. We want to show our campus survivors that they are not alone."