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Demonstration against sexual violence removed

Demonstration against sexual violence removed

By Abigail Gardener

Section: Featured, News

April 28, 2017

A demonstration against sexual violence on campus was removed sometime after 6 a.m. on Sunday, April 23, according to members of Brandeis Students Against Sexual Assault (B.SASV).

The group created two displays for Admitted Students Day. The first was a set of flags depicting statistics about sexual assault on the Brandeis campus. These flags lined the path leading to the SCC on the Great Lawn. The statistics written on the flags were taken from the 2015 Campus Climate Survey.

A campus climate survey uses anonymous questions to gauge the overall campus attitude toward sexual misconduct. Examples of statistics from the 2015 survey used on the B.SASV flags include, “72.7 percent of trans/‘other’ undergrads have never told anyone about an incident of unwanted sexual activity” and “22 percent of female undergrads have been sexually assaulted while at Brandeis.” The 2015 survey polled 1,856 students on campus. Twenty-two percent is equivalent to 186 female undergraduates.

The second B.SASV display hung from the railing of the third floor in the Shapiro Campus Center. Four sheets collectively read, “You are paying $67,925 while Brandeis protects rapists, silences survivors, denies responsibility.” $67,925 is the likely cost of attendance for a first-year at Brandeis.

B.SASV wrote in a statement on their official Facebook page, “By naming the likely total cost of attendance for a first year, we aim to prompt prospective students and families to engage with the expectations and realities of their investment.”

B.SASV chose to make this demonstration on Admitted Students Day for a reason. They acknowledged in the statement on their Facebook page that Admitted Students Day is a day to celebrate one’s acceptance and gain insight into a potential future home. Therefore, “we have chosen this day to speak out about sexual violence on the Brandeis campus because we believe in the importance of transparency,” they wrote in the statement.

The members of B.SASV prefer to remain anonymous for their own safety. In an email to The Brandeis Hoot they wrote, “The goal of this message was to draw attention to Brandeis’ long legacy of regenerating and reinforcing harm by centering the needs of perpetrators and dismissing survivors who disclose their experiences. This institution continues to grant financial resources, positions of leadership and diplomas to perpetrators, thus prioritizing the prosperity of perpetrators over the welfare and healing of survivors.” Members of B.SASV point to statistics from the 2015 campus climate survey to support this statement.

The Office of Prevention Services posted on their official Facebook page in support of the demonstration. They support “the efforts of these campus activists to bring awareness to the needs of student survivors, as well as our commitment to supporting survivors across campus through prevention education.” The post included links to the 2015 campus survey and a 2016 progress report generated by B.SASV.

The removal of the displays for Admitted Students Day is contrary to Brandeis’ message of social justice, according to members of B.SASV. It is “representative of Brandeis’ tendency to actively silence survivors, as well as silence activists working to foster a safer community,” they said.

In the statement on their Facebook page, B.SASV clarified that they did not intend to deter individuals from attending the university but instead aimed to “underscore and push back against injustices taking place here.”

Members of B.SASV believe it is possible that the displays are still in the possession of members of the administration. Administrators have not reached out to the group regarding the removal of the displays.

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