‘End the Silence’ reflects a need for prioritization
A Facebook group called “End the Silence Laurier” was created last week aiming to provide a safe place for students and survivors of sexual assault in the Laurier community to share their stories. The page has gained traction and these stories, which are shared anonymously, have been viewed hundreds of times.
The initiative is a great opportunity for students to share their stories using a platform that can engage students and community members no matter their location or circumstances. Beyond the sharing of stories, students can discuss how they feel sexual violence is addressed at Laurier campuses, which may prove just as useful as the stories themselves in fuelling a constructive narrative on the topic of sexual violence.
The Facebook group is a good start and the initiative certainly has gotten the ball rolling as far as discussion goes. However, as sexual violence becomes a priority for the university, at least in part because of movements like “End the Silence,” concrete steps have to be taken to improve the Laurier environment.
It should not exclusively be students promoting a discourse on sexual violence and pushing for positive change. The university cannot wait for such initiatives to take place but should be proactively working towards a safer environment with staff more knowledgeable about gendered violence. This is admittedly a difficult topic to discuss openly and it may prove difficult to educate university administration and staff on gendered violence, but an equal effort between students and WLU could be effective.
Grassroots movements do not emerge for no reason but are created to fill a perceived gap. This movement may be a measure of last resort and signal a problematic lack of venue or platform to discuss the issues tackled by “End the Silence.”
Hopefully, the “End the Silence” campaign will avoid social media’s short attention span and focus on trends, and promote a long term discussion with broader implications for the Laurier community. Those with stories of sexual and gendered violence should have a way to express themselves safely to prevent future incidents and minimize the suffering of victims.
-The Cord Editorial Board