Sorry folks, I can’t be quiet

Laura Miller

Contributing Writer

lemiller@goshen.edu

A letter to administrators and faculty (especially male faculty) who did not attend monologues:

Where were you Saturday night? Where were you while non-binary and womyn folk poured their hearts out for the campus community on stories of abuse, mental health, racism, immigration, death, love, empowerment, body image, family and more? Where were you when your students’ and colleagues’ stories were being spoken?

You might be thinking, “Okay, here Laura goes again, with her uppity moral superiority, trying to make me feel guilty about not caring enough about social justice, or whatever. What right does she think she has? She’s naive. She’s too idealistic if she thinks Monologues actually changes anything.”

Please, try to read this article through anyway, without trying to get too personally offended.

I’m not upset at you as individuals. Please know that. I know that there are a whole host of valid reasons to not attend a difficult event with stories of abuse. However, I am writing this to the collective absence.

I’m disappointed in this community, and I’m calling y’all out. You needed to be there. As people who claim to care about students, claim to desire feedback, claim to be allies and in solidarity with those experiencing sexism, racism and classism, you needed to be there. For those who claim to want to improve student and staff experiences, you missed a glaring opportunity to do so.

Is it apathy? Do you think that stories aren’t really that important and don’t have an impact? If you were there on Saturday, you would have learned that there are students who aren’t receiving help for mental health and drug addictions because they are afraid of getting violations.

If you were there on Saturday, you would have learned about the ways that transgender students struggle for acceptance on this campus. If you were there on Saturday, you would have learned about the ways some Physical Plant staff feel looked down on by you. If you were there on Saturday, you would have learned about the very large number of survivors of relationship, domestic, sexual and child abuse who are part of this community.

I understand it’s easier to just ignore. All of these things implicate you as administrators and professors because I would argue that knowing that these stories exist demands action in response. If you knew what was said on Saturday, it might mean that you would need to grapple with current policies, like creating co-ed dorms or critically examining the current alcohol policy. It might mean you would have to recognize that violence occurs on this campus and do something to address that.

Is it that you think the stories will have been the same as the year before? I can assure you, they were wholly unique, and I think anyone who was present can attest to that.

It’s amazing – you would think that with such a small campus, we would run out of stories. Turns out, that’s not the case. We’ve got many lifetimes of stories, an infinity more than could ever be shared on that stage once a year.

Is it that you think it’s only a couple of radical feminists on stage sharing stories? Not very many people? Over 60 people were involved in speaking the pieces, ushering and making Saturday run smoothly. We represented 51 stories written by non-binary and womyn students, faculty, and staff from across the campus community, representing a whole variety of experiences and viewpoints. That’s 120 people, basically an eighth of the campus that you ignored.

The message you sent on Saturday, whether you meant to or not (which I truly believe you did not), was that you do not care. How do you think it makes survivors feel that their favorite professor wasn’t present to hear an extremely important part of their life?

It’s not just another campus event that you should probably attend, but just don’t really have the energy for; it’s a campus event involving some of the most vulnerable truth-telling you will hear, possibly in your lifetime.

We must believe that what affects you must also affect me because we are part of a beloved, broken community, seeking transformation together. Your dismissal of this event has betrayed the trust that is needed in order for a beloved community to exist and you have hurt this community with your collective absence.

But, the truth is, you’ve hurt yourselves even more. The people who have written these experiences and spoken them aloud – we will keep writing and keep sharing. We have each other. We do so in the face of apathy.

We know all too well what it’s like to be ignored. We’ve told friends and family of our struggles and received blank stares or even hostility in return. And yet we keep doing it, time and time again.

We will continue to speak truth to power even while they attempt to silence us. We shout it, even though we’re ignored. We cry it, even though our tears are disdained. We laugh it, even though we’re judged. We whisper it into the wind, and it’s amplified by the universe. We will continue sharing stories whether you are there or not.

As we share stories, the cracks in our souls are being filled up, filled in, mended, strengthened. I’m sorry that you missed the chance to fill in your own cracks.

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