Conference Confronts Sexual Assault on Campus

By Melissa Greco Lopes
Univ. Communications

With bright blue t-shirts reading Stop. Ask. Clarify., organizers of the conference Survivor to Thriver: Confronting Sexual Assault on Campus spread a message of support and empowerment for survivors of sexual assault and gender violence. The conference, held on Tuesday, April 2, and Wednesday, April 3, gave participants the opportunity to hold difficult but critical conversations about sexual assault. More than 80 University of Rochester students, faculty, staff, and community members came together during the conference, which included a series of lectures, workshops, and panel discussions.

Catherine Cerulli, director of the University’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, one of the sponsoring organizations, said one purpose of the conference was to demystify the process survivors go through after an assault. “It’s important that they are making decisions based on knowledge and not on fear,” she said. Cerulli noted that discussing the many services in the community designed to help survivors can encourage them to reach out and break their silence.

On Tuesday evening, more than 40 participants attended a screening of the film Not My Life, which kicked off the conference. Narrated by Glenn Close, the film depicts the scourge of human trafficking on a global scale, taking viewers into a world where millions of children are exploited through practices including forced labor, sex tourism, and child soldiering.

University President Joel Seligman began Wednesday’s daylong series of events by offering remarks about the importance of combatting sexual violence, an area he said is of “fundamental importance” to the campus community. After expressing his gratitude to those who organized and supported the conference, Seligman said, “As a former law school dean who supported domestic violence clinics at two different law schools, I have been exposed first hand to the horror of sexual violence. I join those in our community who wish to take all appropriate steps to prevent sexual assault.”

Read President Seligman’s Full Remarks

During the conference’s keynote address, former Division III student-athlete Maggie Maloy shared her personal story of recovery after an assault. As Maloy recounted her attack, which occurred when she was 15 years old, she interwove stories of her healing process, turning what was “without question the most terrifying time” of her life into an inspiring story of empowerment, forgiveness, and advocacy. During her presentation, which she has delivered on college campuses around the country, she told audience members of the importance of taking control of how you respond to moments of trauma. “You have to pull strength from within,” she said. “You have to acknowledge what’s happened, but focus on what you can empower.”

A panel discussion followed the keynote address, which included representatives from University Security, University Counseling Center, Rape Crisis Service, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Services, and the District Attorney’s Office. Panelists helped demystify the process by walking audience members through the many steps survivors can take after an assault, including medical examinations, interviews with law enforcement officials, and discussions with rape crisis counselors.

2013-04-03_survivor_to_thriver_2819Activities moved to Wilson Commons in the afternoon, where attendees had the opportunity to view posters featuring ongoing efforts to prevent and respond to gender violence, while community and campus organizations shared information about their services in “Caring Circles.” Participants also had the chance to speak one-on-one with Maloy and panelists from the morning session. Two lectures delivered by English Professor David Bleich and Rev. Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough, director of Religious and Spiritual Life, rounded out the conference program.

The conference was made possible through the financial support of co-sponsors including Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, University Intercessor, UHS Health Promotion Office, Equal Opportunity Compliance Office, The College, Office of the Dean of Students, Athletics and Recreation, University Health Service, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Susan B. Anthony Institute, Communal Principles Project (CPP), Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys, Graduate Organizing Group (GOG), Women’s Caucus, University of Rochester Pride Network, UR Cinema Group, and Southside Hall Council. Supporters also include Panhellenic Association, Multicultural Greek Council, GlobeMed, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, University Security, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Services, University Counseling Center, Rape Crisis, Monroe County Sheriff Office, Rochester Police Department, and Sexual Health Advocacy Group (SHAG).

Photos and video courtesy of Brandon Vick and Dawn Wendt, University Communications.

Rochester Celebrates International Women’s Day

The University of Rochester community celebrated International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8, with a variety of events and field trips.

At the Simon Graduate School of Business, members of the Simon Women in Business Club gathered to recognize the day. As an organization dedicated to supporting businesswomen both during their tenure at graduate school and in the years that follow, SWiB coordinates efforts in career services, professional development, and mentoring. Celebrating March 8 is just one way the organization fosters camaraderie throughout Simon’s female community.

For the past three years, the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies (SBAI) has also celebrated International Women’s Day. The Institute brought  more than 30 students, faculty, staff, and members of the greater Rochester community on an annual historic field trip to the Matilda Joslyn Gage home in Fayetteville, NY.

photo2Matilda Joslyn Gage was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association and publisher of its national newspaper. Trip attendees toured Gage’s home while learning about Gage’s life as a suffragist, Native American rights activist, abolitionist, and fearless advocate for religious freedoms. Gage worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, including co-editing the first three volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage. Her views on human rights deeply influenced her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz stories.

Past trips included visits to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, the Harriet Tubman House, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Women’s Interfaith Institute. Plans for next year’s trip are already underway! If you would like to be included in information about the trip, as well as other SBAI activities, send an email to sbai@rochester.edu.

Susan B. Anthony And Her World: A New Class

By Josh Morse ’14 & Alayna Callanan ’14
Univ. Communications

In a new course offered this spring, University of Rochester students will take a closer look at Susan B. Anthony’s life. Taught by Professor Honey Meconi, who also is the director of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, Susan B. Anthony and Her World seeks to encompass not only the major political issues that defined Susan B. Anthony’s life, but the physical, material, and cultural world which shaped her work.

Here in Rochester, Susan B. Anthony’s home for many years, we are uniquely positioned to explore her life. Meconi plans to capitalize on this with a number of field trips including visits to Anthony’s gravesite, the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House downtown, and to the Matilda Joslyn Gage House, located in Fayetteville, NY. “I’m always struck by how many students have never visited Anthony’s gravesite or her home, much less other nearby sites for women’s history,” Meconi explains. “Seeing these places really puts historical events in a new light, and I want to make sure that interested U of R students have that experience.”

Expanding upon this physical connection with Susan B. Anthony’s life, Meconi is partnering with the Humanities Project to bring four guest lecturers to Rochester, who will discuss different aspects of the social climate surrounding Susan B. Anthony.

Erika Howard ’13, an English major and women’s studies minor, is excited to be enrolled in the course. “I’ve always been fascinated with Susan B. Anthony and her ties to not only the city of Rochester, but our school as well,” Howard says. “Despite this deep link, however, I’ve never had a chance to study her other than a brief covering of her and other suffragists in the Colloquium of Women’s Studies course.”

By exploring Susan B. Anthony’s world, Meconi hopes her students will gain a more informed viewpoint from which to critically examine today’s social issues. “We are far from living in a post-racial society, alcohol abuse is still widespread (not least on college campuses), and one could well argue that women’s rights have eroded in recent decades,” Meconi says. “Knowing how we got where we are today always puts us in a stronger position in dealing with problems.”

Above all, Meconi hopes to impart a deeper appreciation of the challenges Susan B. Anthony undertook, and the strength it took to overcome them. “In terms of challenges for Anthony, the assumption that women were inferior to men in virtually all respects-a claim supposedly supported by “scientific” evidence-made it difficult for her and her colleagues to be taken seriously.  This meant glacial progress towards suffrage, which only came after her death and the death of her closest friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Yet neither woman gave up on their quest for equality.  They knew that what they were working for was right.  Their tenacity remains incredibly inspiring.”

Photo provided by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies