Faculty, staff and students gathered for a vigil in support of victims of sexual assault in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) atrium on Thursday night. The vigil featured statements and poems from Dean of Students Jamele Adams, Provost Lisa Lynch and Director of Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Sarah Berg, among others.
Attendees could pick up pamphlets about future events related to conversations about sexual violence and could fill out postcards pre-addressed to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor who accused recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were both at a party in high school.
Jamele Adams opened the event with a call and response, having the audience repeat lines such as “I believe” and “we believe you.” He had the audience gather in a circle and join hands as they chanted.
Adams then read an original poem he had composed for the event, according to Berg. His poem included lines referencing Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying, “Her story is not concocted. I believe. How could they not?”
He continued, “Believe. Sexual assault affects survivors of every pronoun…We believe, we believe, we believe survivors.”
Lynch spoke next, recounting her experience of seeing Anita Hill testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee 27 years ago. She referenced the recent appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Oct. 6, who was appointed after allegations of sexual assault by Ford, and later two other women. Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Kavanaugh on Sept. 27.
Berg spoke about her frustration with the widespread nature of sexual assault, saying, “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by sexual violence in some way.”
Student Union President Hannah Brown ’19 followed Berg, saying that the Union believes and stands with survivors, echoing an earlier Union statement that was released to the student body on Oct. 2.
Vilma Uribe, the survivor advocate and empowerment specialist at the Brandeis Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) spoke about Ford and read a poem expressing support for survivors of sexual assault.
The rabbinic intern at Brandeis Hillel, Jessica Goldberg, read an original poem about religious and historical women who have faced discrimination based on their gender in the past. The poem opened with “My name is Lilith, the demon wife of Adam,” referencing the original wife of the biblical figure Adam. The poem continued to name several historical women and reference the Kavanaugh confirmation, saying, “Dear Adam, my name is, my names are, our names are inked into the bible upon which you have placed your left hand.”
Protestant Chaplain Matt Carriker followed Goldberg with a prayer and a moment of reflection, where he asked the audience to check in with themselves about how the past week had affected them.
The audience included President Ron Liebowitz, Executive Vice President of Communications and External Relations Ira Jackson, Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas and Acting Athletics Director Jeffrey Ward.