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LE MOYNE SAYS “ME TOO”

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Students and faculty at Le Moyne College support the Me Too and Time’s Up movements and their willingness to change the discussion about sexual violence. Since the two movements success, students’ perspectives have changed and faculty are not shying away from the issue either.

Leigh Fought, an associate professor of History and Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, has noticed an increase of interest from her students since the recent worldwide discussion about sexual violence.

The Gender and Women’s Studies Program has had fewer minors in recent years, Dr. Fought said; however, since the Me Too and Time’s Up movements have fueled the national conversation about sexual violence, each week students have been showing an interest in the program.

Dr. Fought has also noticed that more students, especially male students, have been open to discussing issues in her classes of sexual violence against women.

During these discussions, her female students have “gradually gained more confidence and become more dynamic” as they have taken the lead during discussions and shared their experiences. Her male students have “gained an empathy,” by showing sympathy for their female peers and what females have gone through, Dr. Fought said.

Most of the Gender and Women’s Studies teachers are already having these discussions of sexual violence against women, Fought said when asked if the Time’s Up and Me Too movements will influence how these issues will be taught in the future.

The Me Too movement was founded by Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist, in 2006, while the Time’s Up movement was founded January 2018 by Hollywood women in the entertainment industry.

In October 2017, the Me Too movement received a lot of attention and became a trending hashtag when actress Alyssa Milano invited all those who have either been sexually harassed or assaulted to reply ‘me too’ to her tweet.

The Me Too and Time’s Up movements have aided the fight to end sexual violence by addressing inequality and injustice in the workplace, de-stigmatizing the issue, and giving voice to women and men who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.

Tyler McIntosh, a Political Science major, supports the discussion against sexual violence, but is unsure it will last.

“The Me Too and Time’s Up movements are good because a lot of men abuse their power and now they are being held accountable for their actions by giving women a platform to confront sexual predators,” he said. “I think the movements’ progress will last to an extent, but like most movements, I think it will blow over.”

Veronica Ung-Kono, a Communications and Political Science major, has the same concerns as McIntosh. “I am incredibly proud of the Me Too movement,” she said. “I think this issue has proceeded without discussion for too long, and I’m glad that it finally is being discussed in a geopolitical context; people are no longer discussing this as a feminine issue, but as a human issue.”

“I do believe their progress will last in the sense that certain circumstances like that of Harvey Weinstein had a large effect on the image of the entertainment industry,” Ung-Kono added. “However, I am still not convinced that on a societal level we are moving towards completely or at the very least largely moving towards eliminating sexual assault or promoting equity between genders. With the implementation of the Global Gag Rule, and the slow movement to enact The Reach Every Mother and Child Act we are still very behind on recognizing the importance of prioritizing such issues.”

As a way of preventing sexual violence on campus, both students and faculty are required to complete an online training about sexual misconduct.

All incoming freshman are required to complete the “Think About It”  course, which is a part of CampusClarity’s program. According to a description of the course from an email to students, this requirement is a way to show the expectations of the Le Moyne community and to provide information to students to keep them safe and aware.

The program educates students and attempts to prevent sexual violence using videos, interactive questions and activities covering topics such as the following: Sex in College, Healthy Relationships, Partying Smart, and Sexual Violence. The videos play out situations that students could likely endure, and demonstrate proper ways to handle those situations in safe and smart ways.

Along with the students, faculty are educated through a course called Everfi, according to Diann Darmody Ferris, the Assistant Director for Human Resources. Ferris said that there is a course specific to supervisors, anyone that is the chair of a department, which is two and half hours long. Anyone who is a part of a department takes the hour and a half, non-supervisor course. New faculty take a longer course called Intersection.

The course covers situations in regards to sexual harassment and Title IX. It explains how to react if you witness an incident or hear about it from a student or co-worker.

“Overall feedback from faculty is that they found these classes more helpful and realistic compared to past vendors that the college has used.” Ferris said.

All faculty are required to take a thirty-minute refresher course every year.

Most colleges, such as Syracuse University and Georgetown University, have a centralized, affirmative action office for students and staff to go to when they need help dealing with these civil rights issues.

Le Moyne College does not have such an office. “I know among faculty, we are quite frustrated that we feel that we often don’t know what to do, who to turn to, who to send students to when they have a problem because everything is so decentralized,” Fought said.

Canisius College, a Jesuit college in Buffalo, partners with Callisto to help students report sexual assault incidents electronically. Callisto is a program that allows students to report directly to the college incidents of nonconsensual sexual contact.

There are two different reporting options. Students can choose to ‘Report’ or ‘Match.’ The ‘Report’ option allows any student to send details of nonconsensual sexual contact. With ‘Match’ the victim is sending the identity of their perpetrator only if someone else identifies the same person.

Here at Le Moyne College, Title IX provides many options to victims. The reporting party is made aware of the resources available to him or her, along with being connected to the counseling services to insure no paths are crossed with the person accused. The report is taken with no action to follow up, put through campus judicial proceedings or submitted to local law enforcement.

“Every year we must make a report about how many sexual assaults have occurred on campus,” said Tabor-Fisher, a professor of Philosophy and advisor to the Pheminist Club. “The Security Department gathers the data and publishes them.”

The Pheminists worked with the “Ripped from the Headlines” discussion program to hold a campus discussion about the #MeToo movement last November. The panelists included Ann Bersani, the Title IX coordinator of students and Veronica Ung-Kono, a member of the Pheminist Club.

“One particularly striking moment was when Ann Bersani asked people if they had a routine for how they walk to their car at night,” Fisher said. “Most of the women had a process such as holding one’s keys like a weapon and checking the backseat of the car before unlocking.”  

“None of the men had a different way of going to their car at night than they would use at any other time,” she added.

Dr. Fisher pointed out the double standards between men and women. “We have a sexual double standard in this society. The more sex a male has, the more virile he is seen to be — it’s a good thing for men to be sexually active. However, the more sex a female has, the worse it is for her. Females are labelled with some fairly nasty terms, like ‘slut,’”  she said.

The movement has created the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to help women and men challenge those responsible for the harm against them and to give voice to their experiences. The fund is administered by the National Women’s Law Center, a national women’s rights legal organization.

The National Women’s Law Center, through the fund, will help individuals of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace get in contact with attorneys who can provide legal assistance at a defrayed cost.

Any Le Moyne student who wants to report an incident or wants further information can contact Ann Bersani, the Title IX Coordinator, at (315) 445-4520.

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LE MOYNE SAYS “ME TOO”