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Tarana Burke Comes to Campus

by Ellie Greenberger

“I’m hungry”

“Oh, me too”

“I am tired”

“Oh, me too”

“I failed that test.”

“Oh, me too”

But for so many other people, me too means so much more.

According to Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too Movement, her push is about creating a global movement of survivors that says I see you, I hear you, I believe you, I am you.

At the University of Mississippi’s Fourth Annual Women’s Empowerment Keynote Address on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 6 p.m., Burke came to talk about the Me Too Movement. Burke said that many girls that she has encountered throughout her life have had no resources. She said that she went to try and find resources for these girls.

“I went to the local rape crisis center,” Burke said. “It was next to a halfway house… I knocked on the door and a woman came and opened it just a little bit. She is on the phone but says, ‘can I help you?’”

Burke then asks about their resources for women.

“She said, ‘We don’t take walk ins. Go to the Police Department and fill out a report and someone will meet you there,’” Burke said. “I knew that no one was going to do that.”

Burke said that one of the resources she tries to provide girls with is a language to talk about what happened.

“When my daughter was two or three, she had a really high fever and I ran her to the hospital,” Burke said. “After that she would always say ‘I have a fever’ if she hurt her toe or elbow. She didn’t have the right language to describe what was happening. These girls are similar. They know they are in pain, they know it is wrong. They just didn’t have the words.”    

Burke talked about the scope of the issue.

Burke said that the Me Too hashtag went viral on Oct. 15, and within 24 hours they had 12 million people engaging with the hashtag.

“Imagine if those 12 million people worldwide instead got a disease,” Burke said. “Everyone would be focused on a cure. How did this happen, and how do we make sure it never happens again? Instead people were asking other kinds of questions… If we don’t change what or how we are talking, we will lose the movement.”

Since then, Burke said that the Me Too movement has reached 94 million people worldwide. Burke said that she wants to shift the narrative to be a global movement of survivors. When asked what is next, Burke snickered.

“The movement will be six months old next month,” Burke said. “There is no next. We are staying right here and starting to dig in and do work.”

“Now is not the time for celebration,” Burke said. “It is time for work.”

 

Now we have to take a step back and see how the movement affects us as an Ole Miss Community.

An email is sent out campus wide at Ole Miss.

It’s from the University Police Department with the subject line Sexual Assault. The body says, “UPD is investigating a reported sexual assault in the residential area.”

Yet, statistically, according to violenceprevention.olemiss.edu, fewer than five percent of college women who are victims report it to the police. We are bombarded with statistics that suggest that there are many more people to say Me Too than ever wanted. On the violenceprevention.olemiss.edu website it says:

  • One in Five women is assaulted during her college career.
  • Women ages 16 to 24 experience sexual assault at four times a higher rate of all women.
  • College women are most vulnerable during the first few months of their freshman and sophomore years.

For me, these statistics are terrifying. I grew up in a household that treated the possibility of a sexual assault with complete seriousness. Growing up, I was told that I needed to make sure I didn’t stand a certain way, act in a certain manner, or wear certain bathing suits that may attract an attack from a male. I resented it growing up. I thought my parents shouldn’t be telling me these things. I thought that if anything were to happen it would be the fault of the person who sexually assaulted me. Not everyone has the same upbringing, views, and experiences, but we need to be able to have conversations about social justice issues like the Me Too Movement.

The University of Mississippi tries to use the Green Dot Strategy. According to the violenceprevention.olemiss.edu the green dot strategy is an approach that, “capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence across all socioeconomic levels.” The violence prevention websites say that the theory states that the red dot is not only rape, a hit, or a threat. It is also any statement that justifies or minimizes violence or a choice to do nothing. The green dot is any behavior, choice, word, or attitude that promotes safety for all of us and communicates utter intolerance for any form of violence.

If we all chose to act as green dots then we can help eliminate the red dots. By starting small and starting conversations, we can help increase the number of green dots on the campus.

If you have ever been sexually assaulted, or need assistance please contact vpo@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-1059, or visit the University Counseling Center 320 Lester Hall. You can also contact the University Police Department at 662-915-7234.

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