Students Rally To Pledge ‘Solidarity’ After Campus Assaults

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UF graduate student Nikki Steinberger speaking to students about the safety of walking with others.

A plea for solidarity and strength rang out at the No Gator Walks Alone rally held in the Plaza of Americas at the University of Florida on Monday night.

The event, which was planned in less than 24 hours, came about after Nikki Steinberger, a second-year graduate student at UF, was online Sunday evening talking to friends about the recent assaults that have taken place on or near UF’s campus.

“I was compelled to do something, and I know this doesn’t take away what happened this past week, and I know it doesn’t fix anything, but it can make us be a little more proactive moving forward,” Steinberger said.

At the event students signed posters that pledged they would not walk alone around campus and would make sure that others did not have to walk alone either.

“It’s kind of two-fold, one is that I personally will not walk alone back to my apartment or the library or class,” Steinberger said. “Also that no one else will walk alone. We’re all in this community together and so that sense of responsibility and commitment to one another is important.”

The posters will be hung all over campus to act as a reminder of what has happened and to encourage students to walk together.

UFPD Chief Linda Stump spoke at the event to show support for Steinberger’s cause and to help ease the minds of the gathered students. Stump also asked for students help in making sure students stayed safe.

“The police can only be in so many places at so many times, and we need people to step up. We need Gators to step up and take care of each other. We need Gators to pay attention to their surroundings and know what looks right, what doesn’t feel right, and what looks may be wrong,” Stump said.

The No Gator Walks Alone rally isn’t the only event being held this week to raise awareness for sexual assault. The student government is currently in the midst of their sexual assault awareness week.

The sexual assault week was planned two months ago, but couldn’t be timelier, Susan Webster, a third-year business and Chinese double major and member of the student government senate, said. She wore a teal ribbon pinned to her shirt in honor of sexual awareness week while attending the rally.

“The whole campaign and being an aware Gator is something that’s great because this is something that Gators will be able to graduate with and take with them for the rest of their lives,” Webster said.

Nikki Steinberger speaking with police chief.

No Gator Walks Alone

Over 2,000 yards of teal ribbon have been cut and distributed around campus in honor of UF’s sexual assault awareness week. Many of these ribbons can be spotted around university trees.

University of Florida police chief Linda Stump reminds students of their personal responsibility to pay attention to their surroundings and look out for the wellbeing of fellow students.

Students sign the “No Gator Walks Alone” banner to pledge to support and look out for fellow Gators.

20-year-old finance major Eric Barchard pins the sexual assault awareness ribbon on 20-year-old Susan Webster.

(left to right) University of Florida Police Chief Linda Stump, Jamie Gresley from the Dean of Student’s Office and graduate student Nikki Steinberger

20-year-old Chinese and Business major Susan Webster signs the “No Gator Walks Alone” poster in the Plaza of Americas.

20-year-old Chinese and Business major Susan Webster signs the “No Gator Walks Alone” poster in the Plaza of Americas.

Jennifer Garrido, 20, of Melbourne, Fla. signs the “No Gator Walks Alone” poster in the Plaza of Americas.

About Bethany Curl

Bethany is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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