‘Everybody knows about it, nobody wants to talk about it’

Stanford University’s Brock Turner case spurred a demonstration dubbed “20 minutes of action” outside of Coffman Union on Thursday.

Students protest to raise awareness of campus sexual assault on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 on Northrup Mall.

Carter Jones

Students protest to raise awareness of campus sexual assault on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 on Northrup Mall.

Jacob Steinberg and Tiffany Lukk

With her pants pulled down, and skin covered in mock injuries, University of Minnesota student Madison Estuesta demonstrated what victims of “20 minutes of action” can look like.

Around 60 students gathered on the mall outside Coffman Union on Thursday — lying down to show support for sexual assault victim-survivors. Organizers distributed informational flyers detailing the Brock Turner case, how bystanders can stop assaults, and the sexual assault resources available on campus.

Psychology junior Emma Doran said many passersby noticed the demonstration and took flyers.

Last week, Turner — a former Stanford University student — was released from jail after serving half of a six-month, sexual assault sentence. He attacked an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in Palo Alto in January 2015.

Turner’s father created backlash by calling the sentence a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action,” which became the namesake of Thursday’s protest.

“I think [the Brock Turner case] is just a manifestation of white cis, male privilege in the legal system,” sociology sophomore June Kuoch said. “How he was treated relative to other sexual violence, rape cases was really bizarre.”

Fifth-year senior Madison Estuesta organized the event, and started the demonstration by lying down in the mall all day starting at 8 a.m.

“I want to open up a conversation about … accountability, standing with survivors and holding perpetrators accountable,” Estuesta said.

A handful of women were wearing makeup resembling blood and bruises, and some wore disheveled or unzipped clothes.

“Just sitting here, looking like the way I am, people get uncomfortable,” Doran said. “The victims over there, even though they’re fully clothed, they’re mentally like us.”

According to the University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, 20 to 25 percent of college women, and about 1 percent of college men will experience sexual assault.

Most demonstrators Thursday were women.

Mechanical Engineering senior Michael Francis said at the event he was “broken-hearted that there aren’t more guys.”

Many of the participants were themselves sexual assault victim-survivors; the group of demonstrators vocalized that participating together in solidarity made them feel better.

“It’s scary that there could be this many victims of sexual assault,” said political science sophomore Morgan Norton at the protest. “But it’s reassuring that this many people care about it.”

Demonstrators said they noticed a lot of people staring as they walked by.

“Everybody knows about it, nobody wants to talk about it,” said Scandinavian studies junior Marit Miedema.

Doran said she wants to see this demonstration become a yearly event.

“Sometimes you got to just lay around for the things that you care about,” Estuesta said. “Now that I’ve seen how it affects people, I don’t think I could stop.”