Letter to the editor: Why ‘let’s stop talking about sexual assault’ is problematic

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Letter to the editor: Why ‘let’s stop talking about sexual assault’ is problematic

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In light of the recent DePaulia article, “DePaul makes an effort to meet student and national concerns on sexual assault,” we, the DePaul Educational Theatre Company 2014 cast members and team, felt that information and context regarding the actions DePaul has taken on sexual assault were lacking.

The article on sexual assault erroneously assumes that DePaul has done nothing about sexual assault. If more research and reporting were carried out, the article would have highlighted an enormous effort taken this summer by a team of committed and thoughtful individuals.

The article implies that talking about sexual assault is inferior to “doing something,” but talking is doing. The small conversations had on the quad or in the dorm room between friends make much more of an impact than sensationalist headlines do. But no matter what forum it takes, we stress that ongoing conversation is necessary until the fight is over.

Let’s keep talking.

Not only does the article discredit dialogue as a means of doing, it fails to recognize and contextualize another doing accomplished by DePaul this summer: the orientation DePaul ETC show and talkback, which every incoming freshman was obligated to attend.

Each of us was trained on sexual assault and consent, and we wrote the show based on our experiences. We spent over three months with over 2,000 incoming students. We lead talkback sessions after each show, through which we tried to spark dialogue and feedback from students. Our goal was to make students aware of sexual assault and consent, as well as DePaul’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The majority of students came in unaware of the definition of sexual assault and consent. The topics we introduced made students aware of tools like bystander intervention, which they may have never considered otherwise.

We used theatre as a method to inspire dialogue about college life, which includes honest and authentic conversations about consent and sexual assault – like the one the character Sierra has with Sam, when Sam firmly tells her, “It’s not your fault.” This Vincentian and human moment highlighted a conversation likely to be had by many in the residence halls. At almost every performance, it was met with cheers and snaps from the audience.

We talked with incoming students over the summer who had plenty to say about the matter, and we encourage the talking to continue, whether it happens student-to-student or student-to-administration, or student-to-world.

But stories cannot always give us answers. Ours certainly didn’t. We’re trying and that’s all anyone can do.

There are multiple ways to participate. DePaul ETC is just one part of it. We have a collective responsibility to one another and our community to keep fighting the good fight.

What needs to be done is thoughtful, investigative and aware reporting. What needs to be respected is any form of grappling with sexual assault— talking, doing, talking as doing, doing as talking. What needs to be scrutinized with critical eyes is rhetoric that sends a message of helplessness, mystifying and overlooking the progress that has happened: a line of protesting individuals with sealed lips on Kenmore (they held their words); a banner dropped by a few brave individuals center stage in Arts & Letters (they blasted their words); an ensemble of storytellers in the LPC Student Center this summer (they spoke their words).

There is something you can do, and the students show it every day. We hope you know it.

Signed,

Dylan Fahoome (Cast)

Kaya Gross (Cast)

Craig Ketchum (Cast)

Charia McDonald (Cast)

Gracie Meier (Cast)

Jordyn Prince (Cast)

Connor Wang (Cast)

Jaboukie Young-White (Cast)

Jared Hecht (Assistant Director)

Mario Wolfe (Stage Manager)