The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

Listening session seeks to support survivors

Seniors Emma Johnson and Hannah Petersen are organizing a listening session, in light of the Delaney Robinson case, for Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall, where the voices of on-campus survivors will be heard.

“I wrote a blog post about my disappointment with the University’s reaction to the Delaney Robinson case,” Petersen said. “I felt let down by the University. I, myself, am a survivor and so I felt personally let down.”

Johnson said she talked to one of her political science professors, Frank Baumgartner, who challenged her to do something about her frustration and put her in contact with author, advocate and activist Jennifer Thompson.

Thompson, a sexual assault survivor, said she is an advocate because she considers sexual assault on college campuses to be an epidemic.

“I am a person that believes the only way change can occur is when we talk about the hard stuff,” Thompson said.

The programmed event will have volunteers reading stories anonymously turned in by sexual assault survivors, or survivors may share their own story.

“We want to make sure that the administration is aware that it is a listening session,” Johnson said. “All we want from them is to come and hear us. Hear these stories. Hear that there is such an incredible broad-base support for these survivors on campus. And just listen to these people without having to think of a response or think of an email to send out.”

Administration is the targeted audience because, Johnson and Petersen agreed, the University does not seem to be moving in the right direction regarding the issue.

“The University had all these opportunities to really, really work on the accountability side and the prevention side of sexual assault, and I don’t know that that is what’s happening,” Thompson said.

Although the session will be explicitly for listening, the committee asks one thing of the administration — a task committee made up of survivors to serve survivors.

“We want to meet with them regularly so we can address what survivors needed then, what they continue to need today and what they think should be changed about these policies,” Petersen said.

Johnson said that some reforms to Title IX have already been made.

“We always should be working toward reforms, but it’s also tricky if you’re working toward a reform and you don’t have a lived experience,” Johnson said.

Johnson said this is a campus-wide issue and students across different organizations have been invited to come out. She said Counseling and Psychological Services and the Orange Country Rape Crisis Center would be attending the event in case survivors, listeners or readers are triggered by any of the stories.

“We are trying to make a private atmosphere within this public setting to make sure people are safe and they are comfortable and they are able to share their stories, and it is a way for them to ensure their voices are heard without facing any negative repercussions,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Petersen have been hand-delivering invitations to administrators and said whether they respond or not, there will be an open seat for them.


The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Black History Month Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive