Students gathered on the steps of Colgate Memorial Chapel Monday morning to raise awareness of sexual assault on Colgate’s campus. The students held signs with messages about ending sexual assault on campus and had tape on their mouths representing how issues become silenced. Students who were walking on the quad by the chapel had the opportunity to join the demonstration and stand in silence as a symbol of support for those who have been victims of sexual assault.
Juniors Cameron Costa, Tess Cumpstone and Laura Wojcik initiated the Breaking the Silence movement on campus in order to raise awareness of sexual assault. As part of the movement to call attention to this major issue, these students wrote and posted a statement on Facebook about how the topic of sexual assault has not been greatly acknowledged or discussed on
“Colgate has a problem,” the Breaking the Silence statement said. “For too long, sexual assault and sexual abuse on this campus have been kept quiet, and survivors have been silenced, creating a community where the frequency and severity of sexual assault remain unknown or overlooked. We believe it is time to break that silence.”
First-year Grace Western was one student who took part in the demonstration. She said that her job was to hold up a sign that read, “Sexual Assault Happens Here.”
“This demonstration was very important because the culture surrounding sexual assault and sexual abuse on campus is to keep victims silent, which often leads to no repercussions for the aggressors,” Western said.
According to the Breaking the Silence Statement, Colgate is not immune to this issue, and sexual
assault should be discussed more.
“Colgate reported 1? to 2 times the national survey average in each category of sexual violence measured by the [National College Health Assessment (NCHA)], despite an acknowledged degree of student underreporting of sexual misconduct,” the Breaking the Silence Statement said.
By standing on the chapel steps, students hoped to bring attention to this issue and to show that it is better to address these problems than to allow them to go unnoticed.
“I think what really needs to be done in order to increase awareness is to not have the issue of sexual assault and abuse seem like such an unspeakable topic,” Western said. “By bringing dialogue to campus, awareness will spread and it will become less of an individual ‘problem’ and, instead, it will be identified as a problem that Colgate Campus has as a whole, with all members actively trying to lessen it.”