We planned a protest, and it worked.
From the first night we got together, we all knew what we wanted: accountability, transparency and action to protect students from faculty and staff guilty of sexual misconduct. For the past two months, our lives, our organizing and our values have bled into each other until we could not discern where we began and where our mission to fight sexual misconduct ended.
We spent too many nights staying up until 2 a.m. working on action plans, too much paper printing out over 1,000 signatures on our petition and too much money on early morning bagel runs before our 8 a.m. meetings with administrators. In between our jobs, internships, classes and extracurricular commitments, we fit in time to put our heart and souls into something we weren’t sure would achieve anything. But it did. We’re getting there, and this is what it looked like.
At every protest or action, we end with one thing to remind ourselves why we do the things we do: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” — Assata Shakur. I am here because we will win, because we love each other, because we have nothing to lose but our chains.
This movement is a collection of small moments: frantically running across campus for a last minute video interview, texting 24/7 about new meetings and ideas, and participating in a teach-in with amazing queer, Black organizers are just a few that come to mind. But more importantly, it’s about the people.
Cooking and sharing food at a self-care event ahead of the forum and checking in with each other through text and in person are just a few of the things that have kept me going. This is more than just a few events or angry students — it’s a community that will not stop until we win.
The town hall took so much of our time. Student organizers were caught up in meetings with administrators where most of our suggestions were ignored or vetoed without much notice. While it was powerful to have over 390 students, staff and faculty show up, share their questions and stories, and show their dissatisfaction with our “No” signs, it was also deeply disappointing to see how little the panelists seemed to care.
Just to be clear: this is not our job. In a perfect world, we’d choose to spend our hours elsewhere — at the PCL cramming for our finals, wasting money we don’t have on snacks from 7-Eleven and food truck dinners, making stupid 6th Street memories that we’ll wake up having forgotten the next morning.
In a perfect world, we don’t have to beg the school that has promised to protect us to actually protect us, listen to us, care for us— they would just do it.
In a perfect world, issues regarding gendered violence, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and abuses of power would not exist. But this perfect world does not exist right now, so we fight for one.
We organize protests, we write policies and we demand change. We start by imagining the future we want to live in, and then we build the movement to make it happen.
Huynh is a women’s and gender studies and advertising senior, Zuñiga is a government and political communications senior and Hobohm is a mechanical engineering and government senior. They are all members of the Coalition Against Sexual Misconduct.