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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Commendable efforts by students create awareness of sexual assault

Published: September 19, 2014
Section: Editorials

As the semester gets underway, the main issues on campus that need to be addressed this year are beginning to form.

Students have continuously voiced their concerns and made sure that the issue of sexual assault is not swept under the rug. Whether by a mattress placed on top of the Louis Brandeis statue to show solidarity with Columbia University’s Emma Sulkowicz carrying her mattress until her attacker is expelled, or the recent banner placed across the Rabb Steps with a quote from President Lawrence’s speech at the “Light of Reason” invocation, students have vigorously reminded the community that sexual assault is present and still an issue. These demonstrations are unavoidable to regular students, staff and faculty traveling around campus.

The Hoot commends the students behind these protests for not reacting with destruction or aggression, as these matters are extremely difficult to deal with. When others might have turned contentious, Brandeis students continued to hold their heads up high and keep their messages to administration clean. No damage was ever committed to university property, and nobody has been agitated by the nature of the protests.

Even during the “Light of Reason” opening ceremony, protesting students carried themselves with solemnity and dignity. Raising signs that were painted with confessions and secrets, the protesters stood in silence throughout speeches, music and more. The ceremony was never paused or held up because of the protesters, yet they still managed to capture the attention of the audience and make their attitude toward President Lawrence and the administration clear.

Brandeis students have created a vibrant protest movement on campus. Demonstrations like the mattress on the statue do not only create awareness of sexual assault, but they also represent the strength of the survivors and supporters of survivors on our own campus. Sexual assault is an experience that nobody should have to go through, and these protests are the start of a culture that aims to eradicate such violence.

“We’re not here to protect you, we’re here to prepare you for the real world” the sign hanging above the Rabb Steps reads. And while these words of our president frighten and frustrate all, this sign lets us know that we are not going to let this comment fade away. Brandeis students are not going to let anybody get away with neglecting the needs of the community to stay safe.

Students have provided the administration with no excuse to denounce or ignore the content of the protests behind a veil of improper actions of the students. The protests against sexual assault on campus have been clearly effective in creating awareness within the community. Administration must now address all of the issues brought forth by these students and offer a response that equals the quality of the protest.