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The #MeToo movement has made its way to Brockport

by Nathan Barker - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 20th 2018 09:00 pm
After decades of not getting a voice, sexual abuse survivors have finally been able to speak up on an issue that's been plaguing them for so long. Celebrities and everyday people alike have taken to social media and other platforms to share their stories. The movement brings power to victims and helps fight back against sexual assault.
After decades of not getting a voice, sexual abuse survivors have finally been able to speak up on an issue that's been plaguing them for so long. Celebrities and everyday people alike have taken to social media and other platforms to share their stories. The movement brings power to victims and helps fight back against sexual assault.

Tarana Burke, a black woman, founded the #MeToo movement long before actress Alyssa Milano sparked the storm of #MeToo-related tweets. Burke started a nonprofit organization called Just Be Inc., which serves to help survivors of sexual abuse, after listening to the story of a sexual abuse victim in 2006. Since then, and largely in part to Milano, #MeToo has become a powerful movement, encouraging people of all backgrounds to join the conversation regarding sexual harassment and assault.

The ultimate goal of the #MeToo movement is to pull survivors of sexual harassment or assault out of the shadows and give them a voice, ensuring them that they are not alone. In order to solve any problem, society must first recognize it as such. The success of the #MeToo movement represents that recognition, and the enormity of those now in the discussion parallels to the enormity of the issue at hand. Since 1998, 17.7 million  women have reported cases of sexual assault. 

At pace with this movement, The College at Brockport’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted “Uncovering Position/ Power in Sexual Assault - #MeToo” on Tuesday, Feb. 20. The goal of this lecture was to gather as many people, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, and have a productive discussion about sexual assault in a comfortable environment.

Program Manager and Assistant to the Chief Diversity Officer Heather Packer highlights the relevance of the #MeToo movement, stating, “[#MeToo] has been in current events – a topic of the past few months – so, it was necessary to bring that to an event. The panelists are all professionals and/or students that are from the Brockport campus, as well as a few who are off campus and are professionals who deal with gender bias, 

sexual harassment or assault.”

There were six speakers, all either alumni of the college or who work for the college itself, or both, like Sandra Vazquez. Vazquez has been an employee of the college since 2008, and earned her B.A. in psychology and her M.A. in college and mental health counseling here at the college. She is certified in trauma counseling and specialized in sexual victimization issues. Hazen Clinic Coordinator Julie Pettit was also a lecturer, as well as College Advocate and Education Specialist Nicole Posluszny.

Before the discussion began, the audience was first introduced to the concept of a “working agreement.” According to Packer, “part of the community conversation is that we want it to be a safe, confidential and caring conversation… the working agreement is guidelines that define how groups work together in a safe environment.” 

The working agreement ultimately lays the foundation for a successful exchange of ideas, something that is imperative when considering the sensitivity of the topic.

At the end of the event, there was a question and answer session, opening the floor for those in attendance to share their thoughts. This was probably the most important part of the event; by inviting the audience to contribute, the lecture itself becomes even more valuable.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is very involved, and works to bring beneficial community conversations to Brockport. For example, it worked to established Brockport’s interfaith prayer room, which gave students a place to pray on campus. Those who practice a religion that prohibits men and women from praying together are now utilizing the split prayer room to successfully practice their religion.

Similar events are scheduled to take place in the future, including “Reflections of the Divine: Art as a Spiritual Cipher” by Masud Olufani on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Tower Fine Arts Center, and “The Black Superhero in ‘Post Racial Popular Culture,’” by ‘98 alumnus Timothy Robinson taking place in the Liberal Arts Building on Saturday, Feb. 24.

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