Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Students demand Title IX reform through upcoming demonstrations

Senior Emma Nordmeyer bends down to write a message in chalk near midnight on Thursday, April 25. Members of the #MakeAChange movement chalked the lower quad, Old Main stairs and 7th avenue sidewalk. Photo by Thea Gonzales.

After recent incidents involving sexual assault conversation occurred on campus, students are organizing a set of protests under the #MakeAChange for Friday, April 26.
According to sophomore SophiaRose Brown, a walk-out is planned for Friday at 3:30 p.m. After that, students will meet on the Old Main steps, making room for media to be on the 7th Avenue sidewalk.
There will be a rally where demands are listed and “a survivor’s story will be shared.” At 4 p.m., the sit-in will move to outside the OSL office in the Gerber Center.
“There you can ask questions, show your support, gain statistics and hear other survivor stories,” Brown said. Around 5 p.m., there will be a picnic in the lower quad for students to “relax, celebrate change and build a community.”

The students behind #MakeAChange formed a list of nine demands on Wednesday, April 24.These demands were formed through the voices of many students in a group chat and multiple meetings this week.

The students formed a list of nine demands for the sit-in.These demands were formed through the voices of many students in a group chat and multiple meetings this week.
One of the students involved, senior Lydia Lara, said, “We were exposed to many students.
There are 90 students in that group chat now. At the Monday meeting there was about 25-30 students who overall came to that event. At our meeting Tuesday, we actually saw a completely new crowd. There were more male participants which is exciting because so far, it was a woman-dominated space. Men are starting to enter the conversation, which is great.”
During these conversations, a recurring topic for students was how Augustana poorly handles sexual assault on campus.
Students like junior Sophie Nevel felt frustrated at their perceived inaction from the school.
“It’s an issue of what has been going on on-campus forever – since this campus has existed – and a severe lack of justice for survivors of sexual assault,” Nevel said. “And kind of… Augie just sweeping [explicit] under the rug and putting a band aid over a big gash and being like ‘We fixed it! Now forget about it till the next big tragedy happens and we’ll put another band aid down.’’’
Other students pointed at Greek life as a contributor to the problem.
Senior Shauntrice Gamble said, “The pledging experience really adds to it because you have these young people, most of the time, and they just want to be friends, they just want to be part of the group, and they are not safe. And especially after pledging, the whole Greek Week, whatever it’s called, is a really big problem. I think that that, it’s obviously not just a Greek problem, it’s an Augustana problem.”
Students from the #MakeAChange movement chalked messages throughout campus on Thursday, April 25. Photo by Thea Gonzales.

Regarding students’ desires, senior Ethan Conley- Keck said, “One of the main things is to create lasting change on this campus, especially regarding how we respond to and how we react to sexual assault. We want to keep people accountable. We want to clean up campus for all of hidden enclaves of toxicity. We want to make change.”
Since the meetings, students involved in #MakeAChange have been posting data to their Facebook  page, Make A change, including, “79 percent of women and 47 percent of men at Augustana believe that their friends are at risk of being sexually assaulted on campus, off campus at an affiliated event, or at a party near campus. More students feel unsafe at Augustana than at other small institutions.”
Lara explained that these statistics were obtained from Bennett Tomlin (‘18), an Augustana alumnus who posted them to Twitter. She said, “These statistics are from 2017, so they’re pretty recent.”
The demands and call for actions were released Wednesday, April 24 on the group’s Twitter account, @makeAugiechange.
Responding in an email to the Observer about the released #MakeAChange demands, the Director of Public Relations and Social Media, Ashleigh Johnston said, “Despite rumors and misconceptions, Augustana is in a strong position. With the progress we have made in the last year, we have much to be proud of.
“The level of support and commitment from administration, faculty, staff and students across our campus is something other institutions aspire to have. People on campus have selflessly devoted their time and energy to doing the work and collaborating, and collectively we have benefited.”
Regarding the other events on campus such as the movie put on by women and gender studies and Take Back the Night on Sunday, Lara said, “I feel like [#MakeAChange] was very empowered and inspired by all the things already in place and I think that this particular event is going to enhance student participation leading up to the event.”
Jordan Cone and Thea Gonzales contributed to this story.
Featured photo: Senior Emma Nordmeyer writes a message in chalk near midnight on Thursday, April 25. Members of the #MakeAChange movement chalked the lower quad, Old Main stairs and 7th avenue sidewalk. Photo by Thea Gonzales.

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Students demand Title IX reform through upcoming demonstrations