A statement from Dr. Sophie Howlett in response to the Senate Judiciary hearing on sexual violence

Dear SIT Community,

This week, we witnessed the extraordinary strength and resilience of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she relived her experience of sexual assault in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. I am sure you will agree with me that Dr. Ford stands as a pillar of courage for victims of sexual assault across the United States and beyond, including too many who have borne the burden of deeply traumatic events in silence. Her testimony and her experience shined a spotlight on the power dynamics that all too often get in the way of a woman’s right – anybody’s right -- to speak, to be heard, and to have one’s experience counted. We can and must do better to address not only the issue of sexual violence in our society, but also the way survivors of sexual assault are too often treated.

It is incumbent on us, as educators, as practitioners, as seekers of social justice, as students who hope to change our world, to empower survivors to step forward. It will take a rising tide of people joining Dr. Ford to change our system and the power dynamics that support it.

At SIT, we are committed to educating for such leadership, and we want to be such leaders ourselves. In the wake of yesterday’s hearings, we redouble our commitment to educating and training those who will act to alter the power structures that support and enable sexual violence.

To those within our SIT community who may need support as a result of this week’s events, we realize that this has been a painful week. It is hard to listen to Dr. Ford and not think of one’s own experiences. Trauma can and does re-emerge when we least expect it. If you wish to talk, or you wish to share, or you simply wish to acknowledge your own experience, we encourage students to reach out to our mental health counselors and Title IX coordinator, who deals specifically with sexual misconduct. We also encourage members of our community to utilize local resources: mental health and sexual assault hotlines as well as trusted friends and colleagues.

Even as this hearing has highlighted many divisions within our society, we know that more unites us than divides us. We will continue to promote peace and justice through dialog, respect, and kindness.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sophia Howlett  #MeToo