Walking Out to be Believed

by Alyssa Velazquez Editor

If you noticed a significant number of students and faculty wearing black on Monday, Sept. 24  and a group of people sitting on the steps of Smith Auditorium around 1 p.m., note that there was a reason. In light of the recent allegations being made toward Judge Brett Kavanaugh people across the country have been responding in a number of ways.

For Manhattan College, a group of students and faculty were interested in the idea of being part of a nationwide walkout. This idea spurred in response to a tweet that was made by President Donald J. Trump that suggested that the survivors of sexual violence shouldn’t be believed unless they reported the incident when it occurred.

As expected, the general response of the President’s tweet was not in favor of his statement. People who participated in the #metoo movement, a movement that brought those who were victims of sexual violence, then aided in the start of the Believe Survivors moment. This is when the idea of the walkout came into play.

On Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. was when the nationwide walkout occurred. Women’s right organizations urged people to go out in support of the two women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and to support all those who share their stories of sexual assault.

One email that was circulating across the campus was from junior August Kissel who helped spread the word about the walkout with the help of one of the professors of the college, Jordan Pascoe.

In the e-mail, Kissel writes, “I am reaching out both ask and let you all know that there is a walkout tomorrow at 1pm across the United States to show solidarity for survivors of sexual assault in the wake of the Kavanaugh case, and specifically show support for Dr. Blasey Ford.”

In addition, Kissel also mentions that is one is not comfortable with walking out of class and joining other on the Quadrangle, they can also wear black in solidarity of the cause.

Pascoe emphasizes the importance of having this walkout because it is not just to show the support of Dr. Blasey Ford but to support members of the community who have been affected by these recent events or by the experiences they may have had in relation to sexual violence. By having this walkout in the public eye of the college community, students are able to recognize the support they have from the community.

One student who attended the walkout and dressed in black in solidarity was sophomore Katie Doyle. Doyle first learned about the walkout through people’s Instagram stories and her first response was to show her support and participate.

“I invited people, like I sent pictures of it to group chats to get them involved because bigger groups make bigger changes,” says Doyle.

“As for the walkout, it was a show of support for survivors all across the world. For those that were able to, they gathered on the Quad at 1 with others and spoke for a bit while others wore black in solidarity. It meant a lot in a time when everyone had lost faith to be able to gather in a genuine show of support,” said senior Rabea Ali, who also attended the walkout.

Allowing the walkout, was a panel hosted by the Women and Gender Studies program of the college and the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center on Tuesday Sept. 25. This panel was centered around the #metoo movement and was titled “Where do we go from here?”

Pascoe was one of the three faculty panelists that were leading the conversation and sharing her experiences. Her biggest takeaway from the panel was that “Telling our “metoo” stories, our stories of sexual harassment, is an act of naming and interpretation: part of what we are doing is giving testimony, but part of it, too, is a powerful act of naming our own experiences, of saying, this thing that happened to me is harassment.”

The discussion from the panel engaged both students and faculty to a point where the panel went on longer than the time it was thought to be allotted for, with people being able to grasp how the events occuring in American politics is truly affecting the Manhattan College community.

Ali has her own opinions on the hearings and her reasoning to join the walkout.

“The Kavanaugh hearings are just another example of how sexual assault isn’t taken seriously in America and how the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality still exists so prominently. Dr. Ford’s testimony was hard to watch, but much like she said it was her ‘civic duty’ to inform America of the horrific night when Kavanaugh attacked her in an attempt to stop his nomination. And yet, the nomination seems like it’ll pass, he’ll serve in the highest court. But it doesn’t surprise me anymore,” said Ali.

Doyle appreciates the recognition that fellow students and faculty members are dedicating to the current events and particularly notes the moment of silence that occurred at the beginning of the walkout.

“[Pascoe] introduced the moment of silence as us choosing to be silent and not us being silenced and I think that’s really important because that gave us the differentiation of that we don’t need to be silent but we can choose to be, and it’s just as powerful and it’s reclaiming it.”