Over the past few weeks, several students have taken issue with the recent sexual assaults on campus, producing an array of responses. From posters glued to the walls to informative zines about sexual assault to an open forum arranged by two individual students, the campus has been buzzing with discussion about the issues.
The initial response to the two sexual assaults that occurred in the same January week was anonymous posters glued to the wall in Seymour, several of which were pulled down shortly after they were hung, despite the glue. Later, smaller posters were glued all over Seymour and the Quads. These posters either displayed a statement about women on campus or a cartoon suggesting that Knox was sweeping complaints about sexual assault under the rug. These posters were also hastily taken down and the glue cleaned by the custodial staff.
Gluing the posters was disrespectful. The glue didn’t make the posters any more permanent than the tape would have.
Then, similar posters were mailed to every student box on campus. While some students may have appreciated the hand-delivered poster, others did not appreciate the receiving that message in their mailbox. The posters also created extra work for the employees of the mail room.
Conversely, other students have taken a more active and respectful approach to dealing with these issues. Some students created informative zines to educate students about sexual assault. Others joined the Executive Committee and Student Life Committee last week to share their opinions about the way sexual assault is handled on campus. Finally, Trevor Sorenson and Angie Ostaszewski, two individual students, organized an open forum for students and faculty to discuss the problems and hopefully arrive at some solutions.
These events have shown that students can responsibly take initiative for the problems on campus and spark discussion focused directly on the issues. The organizers of this forum are in a better position to affect change on campus because they are working within the system and sending a clear message to the administration.
Knox students should be outraged by the recent incidences. But they should also show they are mature enough to handle this outrage constructively. Those who hung these posters had no business creating extra work for the custodial staff. Additionally, some of these posters placed unfair blame on the Greek system and incorrectly implied that all women feel the same way about sexual assault on campus and agree with the poster’s message.
On the other hand, Trevor and Angie and the other students who have found more constructive ways of channeling their outrage have provided students with education and the opportunity to speak for themselves on the issue. If there is a problem, students have the means to create a gathering or open a forum and make recommendations for the future. Students often work closely with administrators to make improvements.
Thank you to those who have represented the student body so well in handling this issue. We recommend that those who want to see change at Knox take note and follow suit.
If the Knox administration stifled public speech and discourse about tough issues, if students were not allowed to gather or make recommendations for change, if it were against the rules to challenge the administration, then posters glued to the walls would be justified. However, all of these things are allowed to happen. In fact, Knox prides itself on the level of participation in administrative decisions that it allows students to have. Therefore, there is no reason to temporarily damage Knox buildings in order to ensure that a challenging voice is heard.