FOUR HUNDRED STORIES PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT AT JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
In the U.S., one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. Obtaining a degree in the U.S. actually increases women’s chances of being raped. Over the past two years, a national spotlight has brought this ongoing epidemic out of the dark. However, students and survivors are still plagued by unresponsive administrations, institutional cover-ups and a lack of community support.
Student survivors and activists have raised their voices against the myriad injustices that surround campus sexual assault. Universities in Baltimore are no exception to the national statistics of sexual assault, and this Friday, student voices will join in the display of the Monument Quilt at Johns Hopkins University.
The Monument Quilt is a bright, red, hand-sewn story of survival. Each 4-square-foot piece is created by a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence. Over 450 such stories will be on display at Johns Hopkins. The quilt, which spans more than three basketball courts, is an ongoing project to create a public healing space for survivors of rape and abuse.
For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Force and Johns Hopkins University will display the quilt at JHU on the Beach at 3400 North Charles St. in Baltimore, Maryland.
The date and time of the event have yet to be determined due to inclement weather in the area. Check Force’s Facebook for updates related to the event.
The event will be sponsored by the Sexual Assault Resource Unit and Center for Health Education and Wellness. The event will also include performances, yoga and workshops.
Eliza Schultz, a Hopkins senior, expressed hope that the quilt will help end the campus community’s silence on sexual assault. “There is a culture of silence at Johns Hopkins,” Schultz said, “and The Monument Quilt is this immense display that is publicly and visibly supportive. There’s a huge absence of this sort of support here. Space doesn’t belong to survivors, but more to perpetrators. The Monument Quilt will help to change this dynamic.”
Becky Graham, a member of the Sexual Assault Resource Unit at JHU, said that, “Campus rape stories challenge many society-wide stereotypes of rape, and therefore I think that it can be difficult for survivors on campus to come forward. For example, most campus rapes are committed by acquaintances. As a result, a survivor’s friends, who may not want to believe that someone they know would rape another student, may not believe the survivor.” This is why it is so important to bring attention to sexual assault on university campuses.
College students are not alone in facing an epidemic of sexual violence. Native American women are sexually assaulted at a rate 2.5 times as often as other ethnic or racial groups, and 80 percent of undocumented women who cross the U.S.-Mexico border are sexually assaulted in the process. The Monument Quilt seeks to broaden the public understanding of who experiences sexual violence, by telling many stories, not just one.
The Monument Quilt is a physical space that provides public recognition to survivors and reconnects them with their community and its members. The quilt will forever change how the U.S. responds to rape, from a culture that publicly shames survivors to one that publicly supports them. Survivors, loved ones and supporters are invited to make their own quilt squares following these instructions.