LTE: Elliot Ruggles’ message to UVM
March 22, 2022
Elliot Ruggles’ sexual violence prevention and education coordinator
Hello UVM students!
I am absolutely thrilled to begin my work on campus with all of you. As we all know, there have been many emotions recently about the topic of sexual violence in this community. As a newcomer, the pain of those who have been directly impacted by violence is tangible. I am encouraged by the actively engaged community of support for survivors that I see among students. So many people put energy into addressing these issues and changing the campus culture, and I recognize that it is through your hard work that I am here today. I am excited about working together to create real, long-term change by catalyzing our community’s effort. Sexual violence thrives in a culture of silence, so the biggest thing we can do is engage in the difficult conversations needed to address these issues within our communities.
Sexual and gender-based violence is not new. Yet in an age of increased digital communication and in-person isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues come to light in unique ways. In working with survivors of sexual and gender-based harm for over 10 years, I carry with me the stories of the collective resilience of survivorship as well as my own experiences as a childhood sexual abuse survivor. As such, I believe deeply in addressing the roots of violence within our culture and communities. Those roots beg the real-time questions, “How are we currently in relationship to one another, and how can we be in relationship to others as ethical as possible?”
Building accountable communities and structures within our institutions is a necessary step in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, and I am proud to enter into a community that takes this accountability seriously. As one of my first steps, I would like to connect with as many community members as possible to get a nuanced picture of how sexual and gender-based violence works here and invite you to share your perspectives with me.
You can reach me in a number of ways:
• Scheduling an in-person or virtual meeting through Calendly
• Joining me for Open Office Hours
• At Living Well: Tuesday March 29 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
• At the Prism Center: Monday April 4 10:00 a.m.-noon
• At the Women and Gender Equity Center: Wednesday April 5 2-4 p.m.
• At the Mosaic Center: Friday April 8 2-4 p.m.
I especially invite students who identify as survivors of interpersonal harm to meet with me during the following times: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Thursday March 31 and Thursday April 7 at the WAGE Center.
Sexual violence is a community-based issue so we need a community-based approach to address it. We all have a role to play in its prevention and in responding to people who have been harmed within our communities.
Let’s get to work.