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The White Ribbon Campaign

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Amherst chapter.


      Last week, the Obama administration announced its new agenda to fight sexual assault on college campuses. With this announcement, suddenly the issue of sexual assault elevated from national media buzz to matter of national policy. According to the administration, 1 in 5 women are victims of sexual assault in college.

      As a result of this shocking statistic and the media attention given to horrifying accounts of sexual assault, the Obama administration seeks to increase prevention and transparency regarding these issues. The idea is to decrease the number of cases of sexual assault, and at the same time get rid of the stigma for victims of sexual assault to come forward about their experiences. The administration also identified sexual assault cases beyond the gender binary; same sex cases receive the same scrutiny as all other cases, and, in addition, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students all receive the same protection.

      This announcement came with the issuing of a list of 55 universities and colleges under scrutiny for their Title IX polices. Amherst is on this list, as well as other schools similar to Amherst in their academic reputations.

      Thus, our small school relates directly with what is happening on campuses across America. Last fall, we witnessed the issue of sexual assault explode on our campus.

      President Martin has dealt with this issue with amazing composure and persistence. Since last fall, we’ve witnessed President Martin’s administration change policies regarding how the College deals with sexual assault on campus, as well as change and add staff members in the Counseling Center and the Title IX office to better serve our needs. More importantly, the College has sought to open up communication about this topic.

(Note: I do not include the fraternity/sorority decision in this claim; that is a separate issue and not tied explicitly to the issue of sexual assault at hand).

      At the same time last week the Obama administration made their announcement, Judd Liebman ’16, the Sexual Respect Task Force (SRTF), and Peer Advocates for Sexual Respect (PAs) led “The White Ribbon Campaign” on campus to raise awareness about sexual violence. The campaign asked students, faculty, and staff to pledge: “I pledge not to commit, condone, or stand silent about sexual violence and misconduct.”

       The WRC serves as example of how this national campaign is intersecting with the issues present on our campus. However, while the WRC is national, it is noteworthy that Amherst redrafted the pledge to include all members of our community (i.e. including women and the LGBTQ community) to acknowledge that the pledge is not only for men, but for everyone.

      The commitment of both our national government and our school’s administration to these issues acknowledges the gravity of the situation. So, thinking toward the future, I encourage you to consider the pledge.

      I took the pledge, but I meant more than this one statement. By taking this pledge, I also pledged to keep an eye out on my friends and teammates when I go out on the weekends. I pledged to take care of them, to the best of my abilities if something goes wrong. I pledged to not shame or harass survivors of sexual assault. I pledged to not be silent when I see something scary and uncomfortable.

For the sake of our classmates, friends, and peers, take the pledge, and abide in it.

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Amherst College Senior, Amherst, MA. Member of Amherst Women's Varsity ice hockey team. Hometown is Washington, D.C