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Students React to “It Happens Here” Event



By Charlotte Gardiner




On Monday, April 22nd, students and faculty gathered in the McCullough Social Space. Student organization, It Happens Here, organized a reading of Middlebury student monologues detailing personal experiences with sexual violence. Of the twenty-three submissions, seventeen were read anonymously and five by actual sexual assault victims. The motto for the evening, “Let’s talk about what we don’t talk about,” encouraged all to recognize that such violence happens on campus. The event coupled well with IHH’s Map Project, which was on display in the Davis Family Library during the month of February. Over 100 cases of sexual assault in 60 locations across the college campus were identified.

How did students react to the monologues?

Jen Krakower ’14 – Perspective.

Liza Herzog ’14 – I found it powerful, it made me question my feeling of complete safety and comfort on this campus. It inspired reflections on the society and culture in which we live. what influences lead to distorted views on what constitutes/signals unwanted sexual encounters and why someone feels entitled to disrespect those wishes. Money? Societal power? Gender? Familial example and environment? Media? Intrinsic lack of self control?

Alyssa DiMaio ’15 – Eye-opening.

Marris Hurwitz ’13 – I thought tonight made it seem much more real that sexual assault happens on campus when you hear the words Winter Ball, Atwater, Tavern, and have your own memories and associations with each place.

Lauren Greer ’13 – Tonight really made me conscious about the nature and density/or lack thereof of conversations among the Middlebury College community. Whether that be in a dorm room, social house, at a party, an athletic event, dining hall, but most especially in the bedroom or any place sex and sexuality exists.  It really makes you question, how much do people listen when you talk, or when someone says “No”? I am amazed by the resilience of those individuals who spoke, and also to those that didn’t. That was what strength looks like.

Sarah Ugalde ’14 – Eye-opening. Hard to face the fact that people I know and are close to could be going through something that I have no idea about.

Ellie O’Brien ’14 – Brave.

Hannah Deoul ’14 – I was really struck by the mentions of Atwater or the Dungeon…as in how these events may have happened right in front of my eyes. I overall am more cognizant of what is qualified as sexual harassment.

Margaret Souther ’13 – ‪These stories show great courage. It was an eye-opening experience and I’m so glad I went.‬

Luke Elder ’13 — I thought it was eye-opening to hear about Middlebury students’ personal experiences with sexual assault. The event prompted my friends and I to start an on-going discussion about sexual assault on campus: what it is, how it is defined, and how to potentially avoid it. While the power of some of the stories resonated with many of us for a while after the event ended, other stories made us curious about what sexual assault really is: Is it just how the college defines it? Is there a definitive line that distinguishes assault from other types of interaction? Overall I thought the event was a great starting point for talking about sexual violence on campus, but I just hope the conversation continues.

Jay Saper ‘12.5 — The courage of survivors is astounding. They have illuminated the imperative of centering feminism now. It is time for our community to take meaningful action against this violence by dismantling the seeds of rape culture sown here.

Molly Shane ‘13.5 — I left feeling hopeful that “It Happens Here” could open the door for conversations about the ways in which we are ALL victims of a culture that promotes nonconsensual, damaging sexual interactions. This is not solely a “woman’s issue,” and I would love to see an event similar to “It Happens Here” in which we hear the voices of perpetrators (intentionally so, or not), bystanders, and victims, as we work together towards a more respectful sex culture. 

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