As we spend time this week reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I would like to take a moment to discuss an issue of social justice.
A few months ago, something astounding happened: women broke their silence on sexual harassment – and they did so on a grand scale. Women across the country who had been harassed stepped forward. They told friends and family. They told supervisors and human resource departments. And they told the world by posting #MeToo.
Armed with this hashtag, women are empowered to reexamine experiences that they’d put aside. Before #MeToo, many thought, is it worth reporting sexual misconduct? Would there really be consequences for the people who harassed them? And even if they were vindicated, would the accusations be worth the potential repercussions?
In this “moment of reckoning,” I am hopeful that the answer to these questions is yes. Here at Rutgers University, discrimination and harassment based on sex are prohibited. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual misconduct, I urge you to contact The Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. All University resources related to sexual violence are available through the End Sexual Violence website at http://endsexualviolence.rutgers.edu. The Rutgers student chapter of the National NO MORE campaign is on Facebook and can be followed at #RUSaysNOMORE.
Here at Douglass, The BOLD Center will host a town hall and workshop to address awareness, perception and prevention of sexual harassment. The event is scheduled for February 23rd from 2:30-4:00 pm at the Kathleen W. Ludwig Building in the Albers Schonberg room. I encourage all students to attend.
Sexual harassment and misconduct can be stopped. But it will take a concerted effort by our corporate and governmental leaders. At the same time, everyday bystanders like you have the power to create change. As Vice President Joe Biden conveyed when he came to Rutgers to address sexual violence, all of us have the responsibility to intervene when we know of wrong doing or when we see it. Through words and actions, we can transform the outcome of potentially harmful situations. We can change a culture where sexual harassment, misconduct, and violence have gone on and been left unpunished for way too long. Learn how you can become a positive active bystander at http://endsexualviolence.rutgers.edu/prevention-and-education/bystander-intervention/.
Douglass gives you the tools and resources to be the leader who promotes gender equality. From our Douglass Course, Knowledge and Power, you know how to recognize stereotypes and analyze power dynamics. Through the BOLD Center at Douglass you have access to mentors who model active, engaged leadership. As a member of the Global Village, you understand that your action is essential to be a global citizen in the 21st century.
As we begin this new semester, it is my hope that 2018 is the year of resolution. The year that we resolve to say something when we see something. The year that we resolve to heal what is revealed. And the year that we resolve to continue this revolution until real social change is achieved.
Jacquelyn Litt, PhD
Dean, Douglass Residential College and Douglass Campus