Following the recent events involving University of Richmond’s alleged mishandling of Title IX cases, I have been amazed by the unity of the student body in response to this horrible situation. Everyday, my phone is filled with messages from students who are part of Spiders Against Sexual Assault, a student initiative to combat the injustices allegedly committed by the university administration. It is heartwarming to see the passion our student body has and the actions they are taking to seek justice and change. I am proud to work with so many of my peers and will continue to do so until we see change.
Yet, these past few days have been some of the most stressful days I have faced in my college career.
In the last two weeks, I have had nothing but this situation on my mind. My friends and I have worked non-stop with survivors in order to make their voices heard. We have had countless meetings with one another, alumni and various media groups to ensure that attention does not die out so that the university is forced to hold itself accountable and respond to students’ demands for transparency and justice. There have been days where my friends and I have gotten little to no sleep, skipped classes and had to take self care days in order to not burn out and to catch up on our school work.
Despite our original passion, I see many of us starting to falter and lose the energy we had in the beginning.
One of the main causes for this is the lack of students willing to step in and participate.
Although I mentioned that the student body has been unified, I don’t mean that the whole student body has been unified in taking action. Action began with various organizations here on campus who were angry. So angry that they contacted one another and immediately began planning their response to the university.
The organizations that took charge are ones that represent minority populations here on campus. The Multicultural Student Solidarity Network used its Groupme chat to organize meetings, discuss possible plans of action and act as a safe space for people to express their emotions regarding the events that were taking place. From then on, students from organizations such as WILL*, MSSN, BSA, etc. took charge and acted as leaders to organize everything from a second “It Ends Now” discussion to poster-making and demonstrating. These students have taken on the burden of planning and put the weight of this work on their own shoulders, sacrificing their personal time and health to let survivors be heard.
This is not how it should be.
WILL*, BSA and MSSN are all led by groups of underrepresented people: Cis-gender/transgender women, black/African/African-American students and multicultural students as a whole. Each of these groups are marginalized. Why are they the ones in charge of protecting other marginalized students? What sense does that make? Where is the leadership from the Greek organizations? Where is the leadership from athletics?
This is not to say that we do not have support from these organizations, but rather that we have had no outreach from these organizations. Where are the leaders of the fraternities and sororities during our meetings? Where are the student-athletes?
We have been very open and vocal about our events, posting them publicly and shamelessly all over social media in the hopes that more students would add their voices to this conversation.
I don’t write this with malice or scorn, but rather out of extreme exhaustion.
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We need help from athletes and those involved in Greek life. We need help from individuals who are in positions of power within each of these groups to step up and work with us to really make an impact.
We need more people to step in and allow us to breathe, to rest and to focus on our education while also working together to help the voiceless on this campus.
Imagine what it would be like if underrepresented groups, Greek life and athletes all worked together to fight against sexual assault and protest the mishandling of sexual misconduct cases.
We are all students here at University of Richmond, and we all deserve to be protected by our school. If we stand together, no one can stand against us. Let’s make a change together. Let’s start now.
Contact Joshua Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org
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