ByGwendolyn Aviles, Hadiyah Chowdury, Jazlin Gomez, Alfie Rayner and Matti Yarn |
This letter is a response to “Addressing Male Sexual Victimization at Tapestry.” We are the members of Ordinary People, the student group which writes, performs, and co-facilitates Tapestry of Possibilities, one of the orientation events mentioned in a recent article and letter to the editor. We would like to begin by mentioning that Tapestry of Possibilities is an event focused on myriad possible scenarios that students may experience on this campus. The content in our show, in fact, is completely based on the real experiences of students. Tapestry does not exist to provide solutions or demands but to start an ongoing dialogue about overlooked issues amongst Cornell students.
Re: “First-Year Students Raise Concerns About Orientation Events at Student Assembly Meeting,” News, Sept. 2
To the Editor:
I was taken aback to read that Cornell’s mandatory orientation sessions “Tapestry” and “Speak About It” exclude coverage of male sexual victimization from their presentations. Still more extraordinary was the justification offered by a moderator when questioned about the absence: “[sexual violence] predominantly affects females, so we address the female issue.”
Such adherence to a long-discredited “one size fits all” approach, on the part of an individual specifically charged with educating the Cornell student body about the dynamics of sexual assault, is disquieting. Only last semester, in her keynote address for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, author and activist Kate Harding — herself a victim of campus rape — reminded the audience at Flora Rose House of the importance of not overlooking men and boys who have suffered sexual violence. “When you put people into one of these ‘unrapeable’ categories,” she said, “that just creates more barriers to [victims] being able to access resources and find help, let alone find justice.”
This message has clearly been lost on those in charge of Cornell’s first-year orientation, and the consequences are both obvious and alarming.
Members of the Cornell Orientation Steering Committee and Student Assembly addressed concerns from first year students at a forum hosted during Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting at Robert Purcell Community Center. After concluding the S.A. general meeting, President Jordan Berger ’17 opened the forum by asking members of the community — especially first-year students — to come forward and share what they felt was missing from their transition to Cornell. OSC co-chair Ethan Kramer ’17 — along with OSC members Finn McFarland ’18 and Emily Hunsinger ’18 — fielded questions from the community. After a few minutes of discussion, ILR student Joseph Anderson ’20 sparked a long conversation on the required orientation events Tapestry and Speak About It by recalling a hostile exchange between a student moderator and an audience member during a Tapestry question and answer session. “At least in [my Tapestry event], it got very hostile between the student moderator and the students who were questioning,” Anderson said.