Nathaniel Pierce, Staff Writer~
Last Thursday, March 29, a town hall meeting was held at Lynchburg College regarding sexual assault on college campuses.
The meeting was sponsored by the Office of Equity and Inclusion and organized by student Nicole Freewalt. It was also supported by the Men Can Stop Rape campaign.
The town hall meeting allowed survivors of sexual assault to share their stories, and there was also an option to share stories anonymously via a Google Form.
Max Rivers, a first-year commuter student said, “First and foremost, I want to say that Nicole did a wonderful job setting up and managing the town hall meeting. She created a safe environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences. As to our discussions, I found it both eye-opening and horrifying that so many people had faced sexual assault and battery.”
“When sexual assault is this frequent, it means that there is a problem with our culture. We need to create a culture where this is truly unacceptable. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, then say something. The change starts with you,” Rivers said, sharing his distaste for sexual assault.
Sena Nomura, a first-year who spoke in support of the survivors, also had strong feelings about the town hall meeting. Nomura was inspired by the people who came up to speak. He said, “Some very strong people came up to give their stories to complete strangers. Their courage to do that is something I could never achieve. I applaud them and everyone who came up to speak during the event to prevent sexual assault.”
“Watching people’s stories unfold in such a supportive environment was a real eye-opener to me. It made me really want to help in any way possible.” Nomura continued on by saying, “The town hall meeting was good for the victims and the people there, but it was also good for the whole community by raising awareness for sexual assault throughout the campus.”
Nomura was not alone in his sentiment. First-year Amanda Linehan shared her story. As a survivor, she is very passionate about the topic of sexual assault.
Linehan said, “I think the meeting was a powerful platform for sexual assault survivors. We had a voice, which is incredibly empowering after being made to feel so helpless during the assault.”
She thinks that LC is making an effort to help, but she said, “after hearing different stories from survivors, I believe more should be done.”
Linehan wished to speak directly to survivors of sexual assault. She said, “You are not alone. You may feel powerless, but please know you are not. It is a process and a long one. But you are strong and you will get through this. Even if you feel alone, please know you have me on your side.”
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, do not hesitate to report this crime. Contact Safety and Security at 434-544-5555 (for emergencies) and 434-544-8100 for non-emergencies. Additionally, you may contact Amanda McGovern, the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equity & Inclusion located in the Flynn Multicultural Center in Drysdale or email email@example.com.