Colgate Community Comes Together for Hike for Healing


The Colgate community joined together for a  walk in support of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.  The event also honored the one year anniversary of Haven. 

Gaby Bianchi, News Editor

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month, students and faculty members gathered at the base of Darwin Path for Colgate’s second annual Hike for Healing. The hike took place on October 21, following a short guided meditation that offered the path as a welcoming public space for survivors and allies of sexual assault and domestic violence. The walk encouraged students to reflect and heal at their own pace. 

The event was co-sponsored by Haven, Help Restore Hope Center, Colgate LGBTQ Initiatives, The Network, Colgate University Center for Women’s Studies, OASIS and OUS/La Casa. 

The hike served as a tribute to Haven’s one year anniversary on campus as well as an opportunity to donate to the nationwide traveling Monument Quilt. Donations will be accepted online throughout the month of October by event organizer junior Julia Allyn and go towards the Quilt’s final display, scheduled for 2018. 

In a post about the event, Allyn described the importance of the Monument Quilt, which has been displayed 30 times in 25 cities since its creation in 2013.

The quilt builds a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed. It resists a narrow narrative about sexual violence by telling many stories, not just one,” she wrote.  

The Center for Women’s Studies brought the quilt to campus two years ago. The end goal for the quilt is to have it cover the National Mall in Washington. Individual sections of the quilt will join together to spell, “NOT ALONE,” in order to show resistance towards violence while also supporting the nonlinear paths that healing takes. 

In her post about the event, Allyn expressed the importance of acknowledging the widespread nature of sexual assault.

“Every 107 seconds, another person is victimized by sexual violence. Survivors span all age groups, genders and sexual orientations. People of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities experience the highest rates of sexual violence,” she wrote.

Last April, the Colgate community received an official statement released by Interim Vice President and Dean of the College Mark D. Thompson notifying the community of two reports of alleged sexual assaults that, “occurred at [or in association with] 88 Broad Street, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.” 

Following this report, hundreds of students and faculty members joined together for the annual Take Back the Night march to voice concern toward issues of sexual violence. 

Allyn believes that the healing and support process cannot end there. 

“I hope Colgate continues to think critically about the spaces it creates and provides. There has been a lot of self-reflection that has occurred in the past year and I hope that it progresses. I think events like this are so important to bring students out of their own Colgate bubble. It is essential to go to events such as these, even if you don’t personally identify with the subject, to step into the minds and lives of others and try to see both Colgate and the world differently,” she said. 

Haven, located at the Garden Level of Curtis Hall, offers sexual violence support and resources to students. Assistant Director of Survivor Support Services Denise Contreras and Program Coordinator Natasha Torres ’15 facilitated the event alongside Haven interns first-year Jailekha Zutshi and senior Jessica Pearce.

In her welcoming mediation, Contreras stressed the importance of the healing process, beyond the immedicy of the hike. 

“The protest highlighted the need for more support systems in place for survivors of sexual violence and abuse, and we continue to have these conversations on a daily basis. One year ago on 14 [October] 2016, Haven doors were opened. And in [August] 2017, the SANE program was launched,” Contreras said. 

Although Allyn does not work at Haven, she reached out to them to help coordinate this event. 

“I think Haven has had a strong impact on students since opening last fall.  While it is still growing to reach and impact all of Colgate, those who do use the space and have been impacted by Haven are eternally grateful. It is an incredible resource on our campus that I encourage everyone to go to, just step in and say hello to one of the many amazing people inside,” Allyn said. 

Contact Gaby Bianchi at [email protected].