StFX Athletes work to bring awareness to Sexual Violence on Campus
In light of the recent sexual assault charges placed on two male StFX students, a group of female athletes sparked a movement that has spread solidarity and hope across the campus community. In response to the charges against two members of the men’s varsity football team, members of the StFX women’s soccer team launched a campaign to show all those affected by sexual assault that they do not have to stand alone.
Two of the key players behind the campaign were Sarah Bruce and Emily Flemming who decided that the tragic event was an opportunity to actively engage in a conversation with the campus community. Emily Flemming explained that it was Sarah Bruce who came up with a sticker thinking to share the logo to support any victims and "once the design was made there was a conversation with the President, the athletic director and their head coach about working together to create T-shirts available for students to purchase to show their support. After we got approval, the entire women's soccer team hopped on board." Since their initial concept most students and community members have most likely seen the accompanying Instagram page and the logo popping up on various other social media platforms.
The signature X logo with a light pink backdrop is encircled by the impactful phrases “We Stand Together” and “End Sexual Violence.” This post was followed by dozens more on the page with impactful hashtags such as #ThisEndsNow, #12sports1team, #WeBelieveSurvivors and #StFXStrong. The page has also been responsible for giving information on resources and spreading the word on important seminars and discussions such as the contextualizing #MeToo and also the Community Information Session on sexual violence prevention.
The original post made on November 25, 2017 stated “As you all have heard with the sexual assault allegations and charges in the news, a few of us here at X came up with a great idea to show support to all those on campus and in our lives that have been affected in some way by a form of sexual assault or abuse.” This was when the introduction of a T-Shirt that was made in order to bring awareness to the cause. Since then it has spread all over the campus community and throughout social media. With the help of Bruce’s teammates and fellow athletes, the logo has been used and its message shared on stickers, pins and t-shirts. Teal ribbons have also been distributed by donation in support of those affected by sexual violence. These logos and ribbons can be found almost anywhere on campus, being worn proudly by students and faculty alike.
On the subject of the community's support and reaction, "what amazes us the most is that not only StFX responded to this initiative. Mount A, Dal and SMU have all been in contact with us, wanting to help out and wanting to help out. We modified the shirts to represent their shirts and have started the movement AUS STRONG."
When asked about the movement's future for this semester Flemming responded that; "our team goal is to continue this conversation to not only the winter semester but to every semester. We believe that this is a conversation that cannot end, we purposely waited to hand out the t-shirts when we got back from break so that the conversation wouldn’t die down."
The empowered efforts of these athletes clearly had an impact not only on their fellow teammates but across the StFX athletics community. In particular, Jonathan Heidebrecht a StFX Football player who stated that, "the "We Stand Together" StFX campaign isn't just about the recent events on campus here, its about making a statement for society as a whole...It's about helping others become sympathetic to the plight enough to not just agree with us, but to move them to step up and choose to make a strong difference."
Another impactful aspect of the StFX Strong campaign was a video released by first year soccer player Emma Kuzmyk. The video features a woman walking alone, being narrated by a thought provoking poem bringing attention to the realities women face every day. The narration, also written by Kuzmyk begins by saying “I used to wonder when the simple act of walking home made us so small,” and continues to muse on the hardships of being treated as a possession rather than a person, a challenge rather than a human being and a tattle rather than a victim.
To end Kuzmyk’s powerful poem, she closed with these sentences. “I wonder if we can finally raise our voices loud enough to finally be heard. I wonder when every single one of us will stand behind her. I wonder when the silence that’s been established will finally be disturbed. I wonder if it is now.”