By: Jennifer Ward
Students protesting in front of the Student Services building (Photo by Jennifer Ward)
Students gathered around the clock tower in the center of the Purchase campus protesting behavior demonstrated by UPD and the Title IX office that protesters claim is harmful towards survivors. While screaming chants such as “We are here” and “We believe you,” students took matters into their own hands defending themselves and what they stand for.
The protest was organized, advertised, and held within 24 hours by three freshmen who decided "enough is enough" and wanted to take matters into their own hands. The protest was held on Dec. 5, and with many students gathered around student services, they had much support to back up their claims of the mistreatment UPD and Title IX give to survivors of sexual assault.
Freshman sociology major and one of the organizers of the protest Channah Linnen said, “The amount of support the school provides is not enough.” She continued, “The point of the protest today is awareness and open opportunities for everyone to feel like this is a safe space.”
The red zone, which is the period of time when students are most vulnerable to sexual assault, is typically the first few months of college. While many students acknowledged that they are aware of these statistics, they continued to exclaim that this is still a problematic cycle that needs to be addressed by the school.
“I would like to say that if you think we’re stopping after one protest you are surely mistaken,” said Sophia Bloom, freshman studio production major and organizer. “We’re not trying to bring down the campus, we’re trying to make it better and safer for students.”
During the protest, many students stood in a circle with a microphone and a speaker sharing their experiences with sexual assault during their duration on this campus. Students who stood in the circle proclaimed that they did not feel seen by the school and that the school did not take their case seriously.
“Purchase, you really need to start doing
Students speaking at the protest (Photo by Jennifer Ward)
something or honestly, students are going to start realizing it’s a problem and start really rallying up,” said, Natassia Randall, protest organizer, and freshman film major. “If they don’t help, the students are going to make noise and they’re going to listen.”
“On behalf of my office and my colleagues in the administration, I want to thank those who came out and shared their experiences. It took a lot of bravery to do so. We heard you and we're committed to listening to students' concerns and frustrations,” said Lisa Milesboyce, Title IX coordinator.
“We urge students to continue to engage with us and to make sure you understand the process of reporting and the importance of your rights and the rights of those accused, as well,” Milesboyce continued. “While we didn't create the laws, policies, and procedures related to Title IX, it's up to all of us to adhere to them and to ensure that confidentiality, neutrality, and equity are maintained at all levels and steps of the process.”
In upcoming months, Title IX will be dedicating additional time and resources to the conversion to empower students that will be shared in the forthcoming months.
Freshman Juan De Los Santos De Leon said, “You don’t have to be quiet about what’s going on in your life. If somebody is trying to shut you down, try to speak louder. They want you to fail so they can be successful and it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Students have created many flyers and hung them around the school, along with posts and petitions on social media, spreading their message. These students are far from afraid of the school hearing what they have to say. “Purchase is going to have to change because we’re not leaving,” Bloom said. “We will be here multiple times every single semester with people as brave and strong and courageous as they were today.”
At one moment during the protest, Bloom directed students to turn toward the
The flyer that was hung around campus and that circulated
social media (Photo via @studentsagainstsexualassaul on
Student Services building and wave at anyone watching, meaning to state that they were not going anywhere.
“We are human beings, we do not deserve to be in danger when we are trying to go to school here. So we will keep fighting and protesting until you decide to give a shit about us,” said Hannah Klein, junior sculpture major.
Students exclaimed they don’t feel as though those accused of assault faced proper consequences. Protesters insisted on a stricter process that should be in place in order to hold those accused accountable. Many students also told stories detailing why they feel unsafe going to UPD in order to report. Allegedly stating UPD does nothing to hold abusers accountable.
Channah Linnen with a sign made by Hannah Klein (Photo by Jennifer Ward)
“It’s not even worth reporting to them. It couldn’t be more clear that the school could not give a shit about safety and making sure their students are safe from sexual violence,” Klein said.
UPD has not issued a statement at this time.
“I just hope they can understand where we’re coming from, and I hope they can take it and change whatever is wrong. I feel that’s mostly the message, change. Fix whatever is broken here and fix the system for students,” Linen said.