On Friday February 26, S3A hosted a Community Reflection entitled “Perspectives on Acquaintance Sexual Assault.” Members of S3A as well as others within the Kalamazoo College community were given the opportunity to speak and respond to the topic of sexual assault.
Sarah Woods K’16, a member of S3A, was one of the speakers at this event.
“The overall goal of the event was to start opening up the conversation about sexual assault on campus,” Woods said. “From my speech, I wanted to get across that in order to make change on our campus, we need to stop blaming others and look at ourselves and question whether or not our actions are creating a positive or negative impact on this campus.”
This event also acted as a preview to the Take Back the Night event, which, according to Claire McCarthy K’16, is a “march around Kzoo, [that is] a very safe space, where getting personal is completely appropriate and encouraged.”
McCarthy, another speaker at the reflection, shared an essay called “Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us” by Hanna Brooks Olsen.
“I really wanted to share something that was less about me and more about the community. I wanted the audience (the whole campus) to understand that as women live in the world, we survive encounters that can be extremely painful at times, and the older we get, the more compounded they become (even the ‘little’ things add up),” McCarthy said. “These experiences are inherently consciousness raising—we cannot avoid it.”
McCarthy added that this issue affects those within the LGBTQIA community, “sexual violence is especially and disproportionately targeted at trans women of color.”
A main take away from this reflection was that everyone has to be aware of this issue and ready to fight back.
“These stories really make people realize that it’s not a distant problem, it’s one that is happening or can happen to anyone on this campus. I just hope that at least one person will stop themselves or someone else from assaulting someone,” Woods said.
“I hope that the community reflection promotes more empowerment among my fellow women to be in solidarity with one another and recognize and call out foul play when it happens, because we are so conditioned to be silent,” McCarthy said. “I also hope that the reflection encourages more men to attend Men against the Patriarchy meetings and start more positive, nurturing man-to-man conversations to raise their consciousness and expand their notion of masculinity. That’s where the change can start.”
Karen Ceballos-Pineda K’18, a member of S3A who attended the event explained, “I was moved by the stories and it was very important for them to be heard.”
“This event helps people understand that sexual assault affects a lot of people—people a part of the K community,” Ceballos-Pineda continued. “It’s important to know that sexual assault happens on this campus.”