On Friday, more than 30 people attended a demonstration called Reunite Baylor Nation: Un-silence the Survivors, which aimed to support sexual assault victims, especially those from Baylor University.
Last week, the university released the findings of facts of an independent and external review that reflected a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX and the support for complaints through interim measures was inconsistent.
“Baylor has been rocked by the Pepper Hamilton findings. Baylor is much more and Alumni recognize this. However, we have continued to forget that these findings had real victims associated with them; victims who were then revictimized by a broken process,” said the description of the event. “While Baylor will correct these issues, lives have been forever changed and sensitivity for this has been lacking.
The demonstration started with attendees standing silently for ten minutes with tape across their mouths with names of survivors. This demonstration was followed by four survivors sharing their experiences with those attending. Some of them got emotional while doing recounting what happened to them.
Baylor staff from counseling services, police department, Spiritual Life and Student Life attended the event. In addition, representatives from the Waco Advocacy Center were present.
Two survivors who are current students at Baylor, Amy and Sierra said they were sexually assaulted by current students.
Sierra said she had recently filed a report about her case, which occurred this year. For her sharing her experience can help others be more empathetic of survivors and make them aware this is occurring on campus.
"This is the first time that a University is making a public stance saying football doesn't matter as much as these people. The name of our president doesn't matter as much as these people and these steps are all good but it cannot stop here. If I stop talking then it will stop here," said Sierra.
Amy who said she was sexually assaulted two years by a football player shared her story for the first time in public during the event.
After survivors shared their stories, the coordinator of the event read a letter to the university with suggestions on how to prevent sexual assault and help victims.
The letter, which opens and closes with the remarks of "Baylor we are, and Baylor we'll always be," states the text is not intended to be an attack on the university.
"We are Baylor too. We have been silenced by the events that now have begun to define us and often are scared to speak out, but we want to be heard," the letter stated.
Ashley, a sexual assault survivor and former Baylor student who said the university's staff didn't provide her with the resources needed when she made an outcry, helped write the letter. She said said it gives a voice to survivors to be part of the conversation regarding what happens at Baylor next. She said in the past weeks others have given their opinions, but now it's time for survivors to be heard.
"We were the ones affected by this the most, not owners of restaurant, football players, or the administration, it was the victims who were most affected about what happened at Baylor University," said Ashley. "We think we should have the loudest voice at the table and yet we're the only ones who don't have a voice right now at this table."
The letter suggests for the university to increase and improving current education on sex, sexual assault and rape. In addition, they suggested adding counselors to help the victims, which event organizers were told will happen soon.
The letter also gives Baylor suggestions about the Title IX Office and considerations regarding the release of the full Pepper Hamilton report.
Baylor University released this statement regarding the demonstration.
“Staff in the division of student life have worked actively with students to support the event tonight. We respect the decision of our students to gather in community to share their concerns and support those who have been impacted personally by the devastating effects of sexual violence. It is important that they feel the freedom to gather and to shine a light on what Baylor intends to do to address this subject at our University.”
To read the letter survivors wrote for Baylor University click here.
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