Telling stories of assualt

Student prompts others to share stories of assault and violence

Photo by Kate Turner
Photo by Kate Turner

On Monday afternoon, two Wilfrid Laurier University students stood on the hawk in the Fred Nichols Campus Centre, with signs encouraging students to talk about their experiences with rape and sexual assault.
One of the students, Melanie, who did not disclose her last name, is a composition student in the music faculty. As a part of her final composition for her degree, she is asking people to speak up about their experiences.

“My final composition is a sound installation that features stories of sexual assault in the first person,” she said. “I’m asking people to submit anonymously if they want to speak up about something that happened to them and how it affected them and if it changed they way they see the world.”

Along with the signs, the students had flyers explaining what they were doing. It said of the installation: “Its purpose is to be a loudspeaker for you, but also to challenge the audience to listen and to consider their inaction as part of this wide-spread problem.”

At the bottom, it explained a bit about Melanie: “I am personally invested in the subject matter, having heard way too many silent stories throughout my own recovery.”

As Melanie stood on the hawk with another student, Mike, who also declined to give his last name, several students approached them with hesitation. One student said to his friends, “This is so disrespectful.”

Reaching for a flyer, he told Melanie and Mike he understood what they were doing, but said, “That’s the pride of our school and you’re stepping on it.”

“I see his point, but my body is my pride and someone stepped on it,” Melanie said.

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