“The Only True Way Forward is Together”


“The greatest challenge of the day is: How to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

― Dorothy Day

I, like many of you, was shocked and sickened by an online article published Jan. 25 about two arrests made on campus in the prior days. The piece, which I believe was written provocatively and disrespectfully, detailed alleged behavior that is disturbing, unacceptable and has no place on our campus.

It is no exaggeration to call this story and every instance of sexual assault a tragedy.

Since then, I would argue we have experienced two phenomena as a community. The first is collective trauma. All of us have felt a pervasive feeling of concern for ourselves and our classmates, uncertainty as we waited for information, and fear as we put ourselves in the shoes of those around us.

For many, this incident has brought back memories of trauma that I cannot even fathom. Please know that I have been praying for you and the victim in this case.

Secondly, we as a student body have used social media to make a terrible situation worse. Ugly, hurtful and disrespectful social media posts have sowed distrust and discontent on our campus. From lies to blatant bigotry, the statements that have been made online are unacceptable and irresponsible.

We can do better.

So what do we do? The only true way forward is together. Now is the time to unite as a community, not push each other away. Every one of us can assist in the healing by supporting each other.

Ask your friends how they are doing, check on your neighbor. You never know another person’s story until you do: there are people around you who are suffering in silence.

This is a time to pull together. In doing so, it is also important not to forget to take care of you. There is nothing selfish about taking time for yourself or asking for help.

I wholeheartedly endorse going to talk to the incredible staff at the Center for Well-Being. They are confidential and they have the skills and tools to help you. The University also offers the student assistance portal, which has many resources on this issue and others. It can be found on my.francis under “Current Students.”

We must take time to heal as a community, from students to faculty, staff and administration. However, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. We must remember that the true problem in this terrible story is not a person, group or organization, but sexual assault itself.

It is a persistent issue in our culture: according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.

This is a travesty and we must do better. Sexual assault is a community problem that must be met with a community solution. We must pull together to face these issues because that is who we are at SFU.