Flames of the Torch: Breaking the Silence

The Torch Staff

Activism against sexual violence and sexual assault is perhaps in its greatest era of necessity. One of the nominees for the highest court in the United States, Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is currently under investigation by the FBI and facing a trial of public opinion for allegations of sexual assault.

This is no time for any individual to keep silent. As members of a University where we hold truth, love, respect and excellence close to our hearts, silence is not an option. Last Friday, in the midst of the falling rain, some students gathered in solidarity with sexual assault victims.

Last night, nearly 300 students marched through the Residence Village in solidarity against sexual violence during the annual “Take Back the Night” event. Although the message of this event is aimed particularly at the prevention of sexual assault on college campuses, it cannot stop here.

In the most recent Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were four rapes reported on the Queens campus in 2017. In 2016 there were four reported, and in 2015 only one.

Only 12 percent of sexual assault cases that occur on college campuses are reported, according to the University’s website.

Experts may say this indicates that there is a new level of comfort in reporting these incidents. The Torch will be reporting further on the University’s data in upcoming issues.

The solidarity that has been demonstrated by students on the St. John’s campus during the past week highlights the need to not only advocate against sexual assault, but to listen to and believe survivors. This campus should be a place where such heinous acts will not be tolerated.

As a Johnny, it is truly “On Us.” Although the University has certainly seen a great amount of progress from a student standpoint — as we see have seen social justice and multicultural organizations and joining forces to speak out for the needs of the students they represent — within the last 30 years, it still has a long way to go.

And it starts with us, the students.

There is an indisputable need for responsible activism. Failing to take a stance when given the opportunity is simply negligence.

Our generation is responsible for instituting the change that we want to see. With the New York State General Election just over a month away, it is important to make sure that you are registered to vote. The ability to vote is one of our greatest democratic freedoms, and it is foolish to let the opportunity pass you by.

Call your representatives and speak up. If your elected officials are not enacting enough legislature to compensate for the gravity of an issue that you believe in, then it is your duty to break that silence.