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End Sexual Violence at Brown launches week of protest with poster campaign

Protest pushes for University action, met with widespread support but some pushback

End Sexual Violence at Brown, a student coalition, launched its week of protest April 3 by hanging approximately 2,000 posters on and around campus. The poster campaign was the first of three events aimed at compelling the University administration to improve its anti-sexual violence efforts, ESV co-organizers told The Herald.

ESV provided student volunteers with four different posters. One reads, “Dear survivors, we hear you.” Another reads, “End the silence, end the violence.” All four provide links to resources for people who have survived sexual assault and their allies.

Student activists created ESV in March to facilitate “community-based anti-sexual violence mobilization,” according to the coalition’s mission statement. “We intend to be a network that facilitates collaboration amongst community members. In turn, we seek to build upon ongoing campus anti-sexual violence efforts, as well as foster new forms of advocacy and activism in this arena.”

In the midst of the pandemic, social media has helped the ESV co-organizers motivate students to join their anti-sexual violence efforts. They recruited students over Instagram and Facebook to help hang posters.

“Instagram has become a major tool for mobilization in a way that we haven't seen before,” co-organizer Carter Woodruff ’21.5 said. “Its efficacy has been magnified by the fact that we are all socially isolated and on our phones a lot more and on our computers a lot more.”

The coalition, which now includes 26 student organizations, has been met with substantial support for its poster campaign, co-organizers said.

“I’m really happy with the community members who have shown interest,” ESV co-organizer Ha-Jung Kim ’23 said.

Even so, ESV has faced pushback in the wake of its protest events. The plaque outside Diman House was covered with tape to read “man House.” A member of Delta Phi was identified as one of the two Diman House residents responsible for this incident, according to a letter from Delta Phi leadership posted April 6 on Instagram.

In the letter, DPhi leadership issued an apology to ESV and announced the permanent expulsion of the identified member involved with the incident. 

ESV also received reports from students that chanting took place within Diman in opposition to the week of protest.

The University confirmed that it had received reports of “allegations that students who reside in Diman removed posters” and “made statements that made other residents and students to feel unsafe,” Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Koren Bakkegard wrote in a Wednesday email addressed to residents of Diman. She added that the allegations had been provided to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards to be investigated. 

“I am appalled but not surprised to see this act of gendered violence,” ESV co-organizer Natalie Fredman ’21 said. “Actions like these only further prove the necessity of our movement. Rape culture is manifested and perpetrated by actions like these. We need to tackle the systemic nature of this problem rather than solely individual incidents.”

Before DPhi posted its letter, ESV called for the discontinuation of the fraternity in a statement posted on Instagram. 

“We condemn any and all actions that contribute to an environment of sexual violence and assault, and we have zero tolerance for such behavior from within our organization,” DPhi’s letter reads. “We would like to apologize to the individuals that witnessed this, and the greater Brown community for the abhorrent actions of these two people.”

These occurrences have fueled increased mobilization of some students in support of ESV.

“The incidents in Diman definitely made me want to get more involved with ESV,” Diman resident Maddie Burke ’23 said. “It’s painful to think that the culture at Brown condones sexual violence, and the events that took place in my building made me even more determined to do my part in changing it.”

ESV previously posted an April 4 open letter on Instagram, which notes that sexual violence has existed on campus for decades. 

“We, student survivors and allies, must demand that Brown University put an end to its long history of neglect, apathy and institutional exacerbation of the chronic public health and safety crisis that is sexual violence at Brown,” the open letter reads.

The open letter includes a timeline of major landmarks in anti-sexual violence activism on campus, such as the rape list of 1990

“The timeline shows that our fight is not new,” said Fredman. “There are many alumni — generations of people who went to Brown — who care about this issue and have been frustrated by this lack of justice.”

The week of protest continued its campaign with a student rally on the Quiet Green on Wednesday, and will culminate in an email campaign Thursday. 

“It’s not really known that there is a pre-existing sexual violence culture,” ESV co-organizer Bianca Bergsneider ’23 said. “With these protests, we want to make a push toward administration, but also a push toward the general Brown community.”


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