‘Title Mine and Beyond’ honors one year of progress
Title Mine commemorated its first anniversary with “Title Mine and Beyond,” a panel, followed by a rally outside the Danforth University Center Thursday.
The panel was represented by Title Mine President sophomore Candace Hayes, Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) President senior Sophie Elliott, Leaders in Interpersonal Violence Education (LIVE) Co-President senior Monica Sass, Co-Founders of LIVE Sport junior Olivia Emanuel and junior AJ Dunham, LIVE Greek President junior Jimmy Abraham and the Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA) Community Outreach Chair junior Anna Konradi.
Title Mine’s first rally was held on April 26, 2018 in response to a series of op-eds published in Student Life regarding the University’s treatment of sexual assault cases and federal investigation into the University’s Title IX process. Since then, the group has organized to demand changes to the process.
“[When] it all came together, there was so much anger, so much passion and so much bite, and then a lot of that momentum fizzled out,” Hayes said. “But at the same time, we still know that there are so many students on our campus that care.”
At the panel, Title Mine provided a list showing the progress made towards their original demands. Demands that have been met already include hiring additional staff in the Title IX, RSVP and SHS offices and providing students with a 24-hour counseling service. Demands that have been rejected by the administration and will not be met include firing Title IX Coordinator Jessica Kennedy and offering University-provided lawyers for cases. Among the demands still in progress are constructing a peer consultant program and redesigning the Title IX website.
“We’ve been very happy with working with the administration,” Hayes said. “95% of our demands have been met, and in terms of working with them in the future, we just want to keep hammering out the last couple of our demands that haven’t been met and the works-in-progress.”
According to Hayes, the panel featured groups other than Title Mine to address student activism on campus as a whole and feature a variety of voices.
“It was a great opportunity for us to have all these voices in the same space, and learn from each other, but also to give all of the groups a platform to reach out to the student body,” Hayes said.
Abraham spoke to the perceived lack of engagement with issues of gender-based violence within the Interfraternity Council and its potential for improvement.
“There’s a large majority of people that are pretty apathetic to these issues, who kind of nod their head and go ‘Yeah, that makes sense,’ but they won’t actually devote themselves any further than that,” Abraham said. “Something that we’re really trying to work on is to allow general members to have the ability and the drive to actually buy in to these topics and actually become engaged on every level and not just check the boxes.”
Sass discussed how students can get involved in issues surrounding gender-based violence.
“One opportunity for growth is reflecting the different experiences that folks are having on our campus,” Sass said. “I think many folks in leadership, myself included, have been very into this work for a long time, so it’s very important to really think intentionally about how we’re engaging folks who aren’t necessarily coming from the same backgrounds.”
Sass further emphasized the importance of keeping students engaged even when there isn’t much attention surrounding conflict.
“Last spring there was incredible momentum regarding Title Mine, and it’s incredible that most of the demands have been met, but I think now, something I’ve seen is people are like ‘Okay, we’re dealing with this, why do we need to keep talking about it?’” Sass said. “I think really keeping that conversation relevant and reminding folks that yes, things are getting better, but that these issues are still extremely prevalent on our campus and we really need to be constantly evaluating how we can make campus a safer community for everyone.”
After the panel, Title Mine member sophomore Rachel Pleake opened the rally with a speech before members read anonymous survivor story submissions and allowed a moment of silence.
Described by Hayes as “a memorial of the year’s work,” Hayes said the atmosphere of the event was very different from the previous year’s.
“Last year was heavily motivated by anger, and it was very high-paced, very emotional,” Hayes said. “I think [this year] there was a much different energy, not better or worse, just drastically different. [In the past year], a lot of change has happened, in part because of Title Mine, in the work that we’ve been doing with the administration. It was more of a somber commemoration event looking back at the past year.”
Hayes also said that the focus of the event was shifted to survivorship this year.
“We wanted to take the time to recognize the strength and the courage of survivors who each and every day decide ‘I’m going to get up and keep going’ in spite of the pain and the trauma,” Hayes said. “[Last year] we really highlighted the violence and the pain, and while those are very valid feelings, we wanted this time to flip it around and highlight surviving in numbers, and just how we as a Wash. U. community, need to link arms … with the survivors in our community, … rather than looking at them with sympathy and pity and viewing them as a victim, if they’re choosing to identify themselves as a survivor and choosing to stay calm and keep pushing through.”