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In January of 1969, two conceptual artists set out to criticize and change the apparent shortcomings in the Museum of Modern Art. In this case, a museum in the Upper West Side of New York claimed to be honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while also perpetuating elitist institutionalism and evading minority representation. Although not related at face value, I believe this story contains several intersectional factors of which we may extract with regards to sexual assault and misconduct in our Lawrence campus.
I first came here in the fall of 2019, and from that winter onward, various sexual assault allegations had already engulfed my ears. These conversations were halted when most students returned home due to the original COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. After two years of coexisting in a pandemic, we have settled into a state of normalcy and complacency. Now, I again find myself having everyday conversations in which people confess to being survivors of sexual assault in some form. As this is an extremely sensitive topic, especially for survivors of sexual assault, I will not detail the horrific incidents in and around this campus. However, I will candidly admit that I have experienced unwanted attention from some of my peers and have fully known that nothing would be done if I spoke out about my experiences. Thus, I am enraged, disillusioned and disappointed at Lawrence University for its gross mismanagement and lack of public acknowledgement of serious issues plaguing its student body.
In light of this, SAASHA recently held a protest calling out Lawrence’s lack of accountability concerning ongoing cases of sexual assault and misconduct on campus, emphasizing the importance of our students’ continued support and activism.
I now harken back to a previous time of revolution. Here, the artists, Faith Ringgold and Tom Lloyd, penned a letter to the director of the MoMA criticizing a previous exhibition that honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for its lack of representation of Black artists. They then stated that the museum required a wing that portrayed a harmonized image of Black culture in the United States in remembrance of the late civil rights leader. The artists proceeded to send a two-part letter to a group of students asking them to answer a survey and send it to the director of the MoMA at the time. The results in that case were bittersweet: The director did resign, but nothing was done to further include artists of color in more exhibitions for years thereafter. However, the Lawrence community is sufficiently united, educated, and opinionated in this topic so as to actively seek out reparations for our contemporary plights.