CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Dozens of Texas A&M University-Kingsville students gathered at the Memorial Student Union Building to protest sexual assault Wednesday morning.
Freshman Ximena Cantu helped organize the protest. She said she felt like something had to be done to raise awareness.
"I want the students here to realize that if you're going to stand up for what is right, it's okay to do it alone or in a group of people," Cantu said. "We are all here for each other and I want everyone to feel empowered to speak up."
University officials said there have been sixteen sexual assaults reported from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022.
Rito Silva, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, said the university is very supportive of their students.
"We want to make sure that we hear from them first-hand and let them know they have an open door policy with us," said Silva.
April is sexual assault awareness month. Silva said the university hosts activities throughout the month to promote awareness.
"Just because the month of April is over, we're not going to stop there," said Silva. "This kind of crime needs to be addressed every single month."
Student Carmela Martinez looked forward to take part in this important demonstration. She wanted to give others the opportunity to speak up against sexual assault.
"I really want to give these women and men the opportunity to say what they need to say to be heard and to make enough noise to where the university will sit here and listen and we can have that hard conversation," Martinez said.
Martinez adds the higher institutions need to do more to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. She recently came across comments on social media that prompted her to take immediate action.
"I had seen a bunch of distasteful comments online and seen people defend the assaulters and it just really bothered me," Martinez said.
Title IX coordinator Tasha Clark said the Office of Compliance is a big supporter of sexual assault awareness and education on campus.
"When we do get a report the first thing that we want to do is reach out to the person that's been reported to have experienced an incident and then try to make sure that they're with all of the process information, as well as supportive measure information," Clark said.
Cantu said she wants others students on campus to know that they are not alone after hearing multiple stories of sexual assault, many of which have gone unreported.
"We are here for them and we're here for each other," Cantu said.