In an effort to shed light on sexual violence perpetrated on campus, Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence (B.SASV) hung banners in the SCC and arranged flags on a nearby walkway for Admitted Students Day. These displays were then removed by the university before the day’s events began.
Responding to this, B.SASV posted on their Facebook page, “Not only does it actively silence survivors, but they silence activists trying to make this university safer.”
The Brandeis Hoot commends B.SASV on their willingness to hold the university accountable for the sexual violence perpetrated and protected on this campus. This work is often dismissed by the administration, and it takes great courage to persevere against an institution that repeatedly silences these protesters.
Once again, this is a testament to the administration’s exploitation of student advocacy. At Admitted Students Day, the university most likely touted how social justice-oriented its students are. The hypocrisy is blatant: Working to end sexual violence and rape culture is social justice. The university has an interest in ignoring this particular form of social justice, because the university is incriminated by it. If the university is going to embrace its social justice culture, and point to it as the pinnacle of being Brandeisian, then it cannot pick and choose when to support student activism.
While it is understandable why the administration would not want such provocative displays on Admitted Students Day, if anything, these would show prospective students the strong voices of activists on campus and that the university is open to taking criticism and fostering student concerns. Instead, they exercised another example of misguided intervention.
With all of the discussion this semester about the place of free expression on campus, this was a blatant example that the university prioritizes some forms of free expression—particularly those already prioritized in the rest of the world—over others. Free expression should not be curbed in order to preserve the university’s image.
Instead of the university putting its resources toward dismantling protests that help combat sexual violence, it should focus on addressing the root of the problem—the continuing perpetration and subsequent denial of sexual assault on campus. The first step is listening to survivors and advocates.