Throughout the past month or so, the number of sexual assault allegations has been climbing higher and higher, exposing the horrifying acts of male Hollywood stars, TV reporters, and politicians. The social media movement, #MeToo, gave voice and power to the hundreds of thousands of survivors of sexual assault, which fueled the campaign even more. A multitude of women have been sharing their stories, revealing the appalling actions of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, President Trump, Jon Heely, and Matt Lauer, to name a few. The fight against sexual assault has become so prominent, that Time’s Person of the Year for 2017 was The Silence Breakers: the people, the voices, that fueled the movement against sexual assault.
On December 7th, the Island decided to join the millions already talking about this movement and hold an open dialogue on sexual assault. Girls For Change, a club on campus geared towards educating people on topics such as sexual assault and self-defense, partnered with The Norton Center for the Common Good to hold this dialogue. At 7:30 pm, students and faculty started filtering in, and pretty soon, all the chairs were filled and some people were even standing. The Girls For Change club decided to start off with a Kahoot, an interactive trivia game, on the statistics of sexual assault. While some statistics were expected, others were not. When the game revealed that 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, a collective gasp echoed throughout the room.
After the Kahoot, the club started opening up the floor to certain discussion questions that they prepared ahead of time. The topics ranged from why so many women are suddenly speaking up, to whether sexual assault is a feminist issue, to what is the best way to validate accusers. Sitting in on the discussion, it was clear that the dialogue was going well. People not only shared their thoughts, but some even connected a discussion question to their own personal experiences. The topics were sensitive and emotional, but the respect and openness in the room was apparent. Soon, the questions turned away from more general topics to more Loomis-focused areas. The dialogue touched on how Loomis can prevent the possibility of sexual harassment on campus and whether boys and men at LC should defend themselves preemptively as non-predators. Although most of the room was filled with women, there were about four to five men in the room that had the chance to talk about sexual assault from their point of view, which was very interesting to hear.
It is clear that after the open dialogue on sexual harassment, the Loomis Chaffee community is now more open and comfortable with discussing this issue at hand. The initiative from the Girls For Change club helped with starting the discussion and now, people all over campus are talking about this prominent issue, whether they came to the open dialogue or not. Big thank you to Girls For Change and the Norton Center for holding a successful dialogue and for inspiring the community to talk about prominent topics in our world!