We, the faculty of GSWS, stand in solidarity with the students demanding justice and accountability in the face of pervasive sexual violence and UVM’s institutional dereliction of its duties to support survivors. We’ve borne witness to a collective outpouring of students’ trauma, and we want you to know that we are listening, we hear you, we see you, we believe you. In your stories, many of us see our own experiences that have driven us toward the work of gender, sexuality and women’s studies and our commitment to the political activism that is inherent in this work. We stand beside you in demanding that your voices be heard. And we support you in knowing that you should not have had to share these traumas in order for the institution to finally listen and believe.
Although we are glad to see the administration’s affirmative responses and willingness to meet the demands of the students calling for justice, we agree with the students that the administration must do more than meet with students and agree to their demands — they must follow through and take meaningful actions to provide the funding, institutional support, and structural changes which those demands call for.
The results of the campus climate survey two years ago demonstrated many of the problems and needs that students demand to have addressed — why did the administration not act then? Will this moment be a reckoning that forces real change? We implore the administration to heed the calls of the students.
As faculty members, we’re also committed to asking how we can do more. What is our responsibility as faculty members? How can we take responsibility, now that we’ve borne witness? We must ensure that even as these students graduate, as faculty we will continue to be vigilant and work to hold the University accountable to live up to its promises.