March 26, 2014

Cornell Community Rallies Against Sexual Assault, Bias

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By ARIEL SMILOWITZ

The Cornell community came together Wednesday night at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in a show of solidarity against sexual violence and incidents of bias on campus.

According to Juliana Batista ’16, the event’s main organizer and vice president of outreach for the Student Assembly, “Cornell Caring Community: Breaking the Silence” was intended to provide a platform for students, faculty and high-level administrators to promote dialogue about and bring these issues frequently occurring on Cornell’s campus into the spotlight.

“It’s really important to acknowledge that sexual violence happens and that we are making a step forward,” Batista said. “We want to have a safe place and know that Cornell is here for us.”

Batista also said it is important to be proactive in dealing with sexual violence.

“Whether you are a victim of sexual assault or a positive bystander intervening in things that we see are wrong, don’t be silent and stand on the sidelines. Come forward and stand up for your peers, your friends and yourself,” Batista said.

During the event, several speakers voiced their thoughts, concerns and support, including Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, vice president of student and academic services.

“If we don’t break the silence, we’re not going to change what has become an unfortunate belief — and actuality — in our society about the violence against women and men, and the biases against those who are different,” Murphy said. “Our words can be used in a way to bring about positive change, and that is what this event is about, breaking the silence and saying enough is enough, not here, not in our community.”

S.A. President Ulysses Smith ’14 said it is important that Cornell acts as a community.

“We all need to apologize for not standing up for each other, for writing every incident off as simply something that doesn’t happen to us personally,” he said.

Anna-Lisa Castle ’14, a speaker during the event, encouraged others to “come forward” about sexual violence, even though she says it can often be difficult.

“Coming forward can be hard,” Castle said. “We must all take accountability and strive to be a truly caring community, and more than caring, let’s also try to be candid, and honest with ourselves and responsible for our own actions.”

The event was a collaborative effort, with over 40 student organizations signed on as cosponsors, including the Women’s Resource Center, Ordinary People and the student-created ResCUer application, which gives students the necessary resources to respond to a crisis at any time of the day.

“We hope that the Breaking the Silence event will reaffirm throughout the Cornell community the values we already hold about campus safety and shared awareness between members of the community,” said Matthew Laks ’15, co-founder of ResCUer.

Batista said all of these organizations believe in the mission of the event and the idea that we need to be more proactive in uniting the Cornell community.

“This event really gives an outlet for all those organizations to come together, be in the same space and realize that we are really working on the same things together,” Batista said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the fragmentation of Cornell. This reaffirms that what we’re doing really does make a difference. We all care [for] each other.”

According to Juliana Batista ’16, the event’s main organizer and vice president of outreach for the Student Assembly, “Cornell Caring Community: Breaking the Silence” was intended to provide a platform for students, faculty and high-level administrators to promote dialogue about and bring these issues frequently occurring on Cornell’s campus into the spotlight.

“It’s really important to acknowledge that sexual violence happens and that we are making a step forward,” Batista said. “We want to have a safe place and know that Cornell is here for us.”

Batista also said it is important to be proactive in dealing with sexual violence.

“Whether you are a victim of sexual assault or a positive bystander intervening in things that we see are wrong, don’t be silent and stand on the sidelines. Come forward and stand up for your peers, your friends and yourself,” Batista said.

During the event, several speakers voiced their thoughts, concerns and support, includ

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