Organizing for Survivors Hangs Banner, Calls on Swarthmore to Commit to Transformative Justice

On Monday, October 1st, at 12:30pm, Organizing for Survivors (O4S) held a banner drop and moment of silence to reflect on the recent hearing and national discussion around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault of Christine Blasey Ford.

Organizing for Survivors’ banner outside Kohlberg.

Organizing for Survivors’ banner outside Kohlberg.

The event began when Amal Haddad ‘22 read aloud a written statement demonstrating the group’s support and gratitude for Christine Blasey Ford and Anita Hill, affirming that the group believes survivors and their stories. The statement also called on Swarthmore College to reflect on “how it can intervene in patterns of sexual violence,” “commit to transformative justice,” and take action to transform structures that enable sexual violence on campus and beyond.

Morgin Goldberg ‘19, O4S member, cites the connection between conversations happening nationally and those happening on Swarthmore’s campus as a reason for the importance of this event. She says, “when we see leaders—sexually violent people who have committed violence in their youth and then go on to paths of power and prestige, we have to ask: what institutions failed to not just protect survivors, not just protect Dr. Blasey Ford and Anita Hill and these other people that we see coming forward...But what happened so that the people who were sexually violent were allowed to go on without intervention for so long, and were allowed to accumulate power?” Goldberg illustrates how Swarthmore is implicated in the issues she describes, stating, “our future leaders, while they’re here [at Swarthmore], are allowed to be sexually violent without accountability for their actions.”

After reading the statement, members of O4S walked to the front of the crowd holding a large banner that read, “No more Kavanaughs, transformative justice must start here.” As the banner was held before the crowd, Olivia Smith ‘21 led attendees in a song, with lyrics: “May the life I lead speak for me / When I get to the end of my road / And I lay down my heavy load / May the life I lead speak for me.” The banner was then hung on the windows of Kohlberg.

Hannah Stern Pait ‘22, attended the event to show support and allyship to survivors. She says, “I don’t consider myself a victim of sexual assault or a survivor, which I think makes it more important for me to be showing support, instead of leaving it up to victims to relive their trauma as a way to make the issue heard.”

O4S ended the event by inviting attendees to an open meeting, which took place on Wednesday at 8:00pm.

Haddad says the event was a success. “I think this event was really vital in drawing connections between what’s going on in our country and what’s going on at this college, and pointing out that these are not isolated events...These things don’t exist in a vacuum, but rather, are perpetuated by cycles of power that our college helps to uphold.”

As Haddad says, “I think the community here was really responsive to [the event], which just goes to show how Swarthmore students are ready for our college to take a larger role in disrupting cycles of violence.”