Gustavus Adolphus College had the amazing opportunity to have a guest speaker of epic proportions bless our campus this past Monday, May 6.
Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, spoke in the chapel on campus on how she began as a social justice activist, what the movement means to her, and how she hopes to see change through young people. The crowd welcomed the New Yorker with a hearty applause as Tarana walked onto the stage to engage in a conversation-like talk, with two student facilitators asking questions submitted by students on campus. Tarana commented “I get to have real conversations when I come into the community”, something that is different than the TV interviews she does occasionally.
One of Tarana’s main points during her interview was that the #MeToo movement is more than just a hashtag on social media. It’s more than just the celebrities who speak out on sexual assault, although their influential voices help other survivors to have someone relate to and bring more awareness to the issue. She said that the movement is about survivors and what it takes to help them. Speaking out about their assault helps some, while others just aren’t ready to talk about the trauma they have faced, and may never will be. And that’s okay.
“Resilient. That’s one of my favorite words” stated Tarana during the conversation. Being resilient in some of the hardest times of their lives is what makes survivors able to continue, grow, and find support in a movement such as this. She went on to say how this is not a womens’ movement, but a survivors’ movement. In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Tarana wants everyone to ask themselves these three questions: How did we get here? How do we stop it? And how do we prevent it?
While strides are being taken to combat sexual assault and support survivors, there is still a long way to go. One of the best things individuals can do is educate how to teach consent in all forms and how to be an ally themselves. For more information and resources, you can visit the Me Too Movement website.