Students from the University of Vermont (UVM) held a protest this week to show solidarity with victims of campus sexual assault while calling out the school for failing to adequately respond to such complaints.
A 45-minute walkout was organized, which included more than 1,000 people. The walkout concluded at the steps of the Waterman building, where a short program was conducted. Speakers talked about their personal experiences and demanded more accountability from UVM.
UVM student Athena Hendrick led the protest. It was her recent Instagram post, detailing her abuse and the disappointing response from the school’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) office, that sparked other survivors to speak up.
“I’ve heard countless me-toos shouted into the dark because our university doesn’t give a damn about what their students have gone through or the safety of their students. It is (UVM’s) job to keep us safe, it is their job to hold students accountable,” said UVM senior Sydney Ovitt.
Interim Vice Provost for Student Affairs Erica Caloiero stated that the university has begun working with students to create necessary reforms. University leaders met with a number of students over the weekend to discuss demands made by the student-led Title IX Advisory Committee.
These demands include:
- To enhance the UVM Title IX office and its services.
- To partner with HOPE Works to diversify victim advocates and allow services to be available 24/7.
- To conduct a university-led independent investigation into the UVM AAEO (or Title IX) office.
- To create a 24/7 hotline for student survivors of sexual violence and harassment.
- To require all sports teams to attend sexual violence, harassment, or healthy relationship training each semester.
- To establish a sexual violence response team consisting of five employees and three-to-four victim advocates.
“We value the voices of students and we are bringing them to the table to discuss issues of mutual concern,” Caloiero said.