Hundreds of students gathered on the Green last night to take a stance against sexual assault on campus, swaying arm-in-arm as they sang the College alma mater in near-zero temperatures. Student leaders took turns addressing the crowd from a makeshift podium atop the Winter Carnival snow sculpture.
“Dartmouth is better than this,” student body president Adrian Ferrari ’14 yelled through a megaphone.
The students, calling on one another to take action rather than rely on the administration, had congregated in response to a Jan. 10 threatening Bored at Baker post. The post, a step-by-step guide to assaulting a female member of the Class of 2017, identified the student and her residence cluster.
Following a police investigation, the College has since identified the post’s author and is pursuing disciplinary action through College systems. The post first sparked public debate after the named student wrote about her experiences with assault and harassment on the Class of 2017 Facebook page, attaching a screen shot of the Bored at Baker post.
Speakers at the gathering included student body president Adrian Ferrari ’14 and Native Americans at Dartmouth co-president Phoebe Racine ’14. Kristy Blackwood ’14 read Dartmouth’s Principles of the Community. In closing, the crowd sang the alma mater.
Emails sent Sunday and Monday notified students of the event. The message spread quickly, as Greek organizations, the Dartmouth Outing Club and sports teams reached out to their members. The Panhellenic Council also highlighted the event in a campus-wide email.
Racine said in her speech that the gathering’s intention was to demonstrate solidarity with survivors of sexual assault, show that harmful behaviors are not acceptable and affirm core Dartmouth values.
In his speech, Ferrari urged students to take responsibility and stand up against acts of discrimination, sexual assault and violence.
“It is not enough to rely on the administration and select student groups to act,” Ferrari said.
He said he felt grateful and impressed to see hundreds of people out on the Green and believes the high number is indicative of how many students reject sexual violence. At the same time, however, Ferrari stressed the importance of continuing to take action, like registering for Dartmouth Bystander Intervention training, which teaches participants how to intervene in high-risk situations.
Katie Randolph ’14 said that students began organizing the event a few days ago but wanted to wait until after Winter Carnival to respect the memory of Torin Tucker ’15, who died Feb. 1 while competing in a cross-country ski race in Craftsbury, Vt.
“The administration does what they can, but we need to condemn this culture of apathy,” she said. “We wanted to show that this is a community issue and we wanted this event to be put on by the community.”
Leah Feiger ’14 emphasized that organizing the event was a cross-campus effort. The gathering, she said, expanded on existing efforts to combat sexual assault on campus and that it should serve as a “rallying call” for further action.
Randolph and Feiger said they hope the event, especially given its large attendance, will inspire others to enact change in their own corners of campus.
“If nothing else happened, if no one else here felt inspired to act, we stood here in support of a member of our community and other members of our community and stood in solidarity,” Feiger said. “Survivors can now walk around campus seeing all of these people that actually care. That is ultimately one of the most important things to us.”
Malcolm Salovaara ’17, who attended the gathering, said he found the Bored at Baker post disturbing. Sexual assault was a problem at his high school, he said, and he takes the issue very seriously.
Though he said he was pleased to see a strong turnout at the event, Salovaara said he was “underwhelmed” by the gathering, calling the speakers’ messages against sexual violence “nothing out of the ordinary.”
Moving forward, Salovaara said he believes the onus is on students, rather than the administration, to make significant change.
Aki Berman ’16 said she attended the gathering to show support and demonstrate the fact that the Dartmouth community should not condone this type of behavior.
“I was initially shocked and disgusted, but happy that it was being brought to everyone’s attention because I feel like I walk around and hear rape jokes and nothing gets said,” Berman said. “The next time we hear a rape joke, we’re going to shoot it down.”
Berman said she feels the responsibility ultimately falls on the administration to change the way the College handles perpetrators.
Several students shared emphasized the need to come together as a community.
“It’s important we show that sexual assault and sexual violence do not belong on this campus or anywhere else,” Alex Kaye ’15.
Charli Fool Bear-Vetter ’15 said that since the Bored at Baker post has sparked discussion on campus, it has been inspiring to meet students from all walks of campus that support the victim and feel disgusted by how she has been treated.
“I felt sick to my stomach, physically sick, when I read it,” she said. “But when I heard about her [Facebook] post, I felt very empowered, and I thought she was very strong and amazing.”
Paige Wilson ’14, a Mentor Against Violence, said she was impressed by the level of support displayed last night. Friends of hers have suffered from sexual assault in the past, she said, and though many people were immediately angry and wanted to take action out, motivation died down quickly.
“I’ve seen such an outpouring of support, such that I’ve never seen for any other incidence of sexual assault on this campus,” she said. “We can’t lose momentum.”