Remarks by Provost Lisa Lynch at the We Believe You Vigil

Oct. 12, 2018

This is a difficult moment in our country not only from the high profile revelations of sexual assault and violence that we have learned about, but also the venomous and hateful speech that has surrounded the discussions of these revelations.  For those of us who watched the 1991 hearings and the courageous testimony of our wonderful colleague Professor Anita Hill, there is so much that seems the same even after 27 years of progress on people’s understanding of sexual harassment and sexual violence. For many of us in this room who have experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct, the last few weeks may have awakened past trauma.

Sexual misconduct is not just some unavoidable byproduct of the culture at large. As shaken as we may all be from recent events, both as survivors and knowing loved ones who are survivors, we must not be deterred from finding ways to take action. We denounce the problem, but we must all work on addressing it together. This is true on our campus where everyone must be able to study, work and live in an environment free from harassment and sexual assault.  Students cannot freely engage with ideas and reach their fullest potential as scholars if they are worried about their personal safety, fearful of harassment, or convinced they have nowhere to go for advice, support and protection. Sexual misconduct in all of its forms affects all of us in ways direct and indirect, subtle and profound. This is not a partisan issue and it knows no gender or age.

But in the midst of all this trauma I take some hope in the following.  As the Boston Area Rape crisis center shared in a note today – more people are reaching out for support, people are actually talking about sexual violence, and people are taking action and investing in change.  I see a moment on our campus for a multi-generational coalition to be built that brings all of us together to stand up and fight for security, respect and trust both on our campus and across the country. 

I Believe You! I believe in you!

Lisa M. Lynch