“You’re Literally Causing Massive Public Scandal to the Knights and the Church”

Andrew Keyes (center) was an altar server and Grand Knight of the Saint Anselm College chapter of the Knights of Columbus until his recent resignation.

In recent weeks there has been confusion and controversy surrounding the events that transpired following the Knights of Columbus formal. On March 16, Andrew Keyes, who was the Grand Knight of the Council at the time, brought his boyfriend to the organization’s formal, which is held on campus in a member’s apartment. Shortly after, Keyes was asked to resign from his position as Grand Knight by Father Benedict Guevin, O.S.B.

In reflecting on the night of formal itself, Keyes explains that he was under the impression that everything went well. He was very clear that prior to the formal and in the first few days after, he had not been given any reason to believe bringing a male date would be a problem. This changed, however, when Keyes received a text the following Wednesday from Knights member Andrew Cilento which read, “1) you’re off serving 2) resign now as Grand Knight or I’m going to motion to have you removed.” A later text read, “you’re literally causing massive public scandal to the Knights and the Church.”

When asked to comment on these messages, Cilento admitted that he should have approached Keyes in person and attested to the difficulty of holding the position as Grand Knight. Cilento believes, “It was inappropriate for Mr. Keyes to hold a leadership position for a Catholic organization while being in a relationship that is contrary to the teachings of Holy Mother Church.” Despite fundamentally disagreeing with Keyes, Cilento issued a written statement saying, “I have always had great respect for Mr. Keyes, and I will continue to do so, regardless of this incident.”

In the same week as Keyes’ interaction with Cilento, Father Benedict, whom Keyes describes as a friend, contacted Keyes and requested a meeting off campus. At the end of what Fr. Benedict describes as a “lovely lunch,” he asked for Keyes’ resignation from his position as Grand Knight. Keyes’ actions led Fr. Benedict to believe his “hands were tied.” This decision came after multiple conversations with the Supreme Council.

Denying allegations of discrimination, Fr. Benedict explains that he was forced to ask for Keyes’ resignation due to the public nature of his acts. Because Keyes held a public position in a distinctly Catholic organization, he was expected to uphold Catholic values in his public life.

While many have said that this is a case of discrimination based on Keyes’ sexuality, Fr. Benedict believes that this is not the case, and “to throw around the word discrimination is unwise and untrue.” Fr. Benedict, as chaplain of the Council, is responsible for holding members to Catholic teaching. Because the Grand Knight is in an exemplary position, it is especially important that he be held to the standards of Catholic teachings. When Keyes brought a male date to the formal, he was contradicting Catholic teaching, according to Fr. Benedict. The act caused much anger and confusion within the group’s membership, especially among the younger members of the Knights.

Fr. Benedict reports that he received word that younger members were confused about how Keyes’ relationship related to the teachings of the church, and this contributed to Fr. Benedict’s request for Keyes’ resignation. Fr. Benedict was clear that he and older members of the Knights “know Mr. Keyes, we know what he’s like, we know what his reputation is.” However, younger members of the Council were confused because of Keyes’ failure to uphold the values of the Catholic Church while being in a public position of authority. Fr. Benedict explained this further. “When the Grand Knight comes in with his boyfriend you can imagine people saying, ‘What the fuck is that all about?’”

Fr. Benedict, as chaplain, had an obligation to respond to this confusion and bring clarity to the younger members of the Knights. This anger and confusion, along with urging from the Supreme Council, ultimately led to his request for Keyes’ resignation. Both Keyes and Fr. Benedict acknowledge that Keyes understood this reasoning and gracefully resigned.

Shortly after Keyes’ resignation, during Easter break, Fr. Benedict received word that many Knights were upset with the decision, claiming that Keyes was forced to resign and that this was an act of bigotry. Fr. Benedict cleared up these accusations by saying that Keyes was not forced to resign and that this is not an act of bigotry. When asked, however, what would have transpired if Keyes had not gracefully resigned, Fr. Benedict did not feel comfortable entering the realm of speculation, explaining that the Supreme Council had suggested something he was “not comfortable with.” Impeachment by a vote of the fellow knights, however, is not a specified procedure laid forth in their bylaws.

Many have claimed Keyes’ removal as Grand Knight is an attempt to avoid losing funding from the Supreme Council. The Financial Secretary of the Knights, Father Stephen Lawson, O.S.B., would like to make clear that, “The Saint Anselm College Knights of Columbus is entirely self-funded…  The notion that the Supreme Council (the national Knights organization) put financial pressure on the Saint Anselm Council is totally baseless and false because we do not receive money from our national organization.” Fr. Benedict echoes Fr. Stephen’s comments, explaining that if there is an exchange of funds, it is from the campus Council to the Supreme, not the other way around. The Knights also receive no funding from the College.

Thus, the reasoning for Keyes’ resignation is again brought back to the public display of his sexuality. Fr. Benedict maintains that “If Mr. Keyes were gay and private about it and kept his private life private, there would be no issue, but that’s not what Mr. Keyes chose to do.”

Amid questions about involvement from the ACLU, Fr. Benedict denies that he has had any contact with the ACLU. He further states that there is no reason for their involvement because this is not a case of discrimination.

Keyes, however, has received mixed reactions from members of the Knights. He expressed that the fact that he brought a male date, his boyfriend, to the Knights formal was “disgusting to a member or two.” Others have been supportive of Keyes, and Keyes says some knights have resigned in solidarity with him after the incident. Some members of the Knights have even gone as far as to suggest the Council should be dissolved, according to Keyes.

As the Catholic Church is forced to reconcile its teachings with the realities of the 21st century, questions about the Church’s beliefs and human sexuality continue to surface. The Saint Anselm community is especially susceptible to these debates because of its dual role as a monastery and place for scholarship. Keyes himself characterized the Catholicism at Saint Anselm as “traditionalist,” while reiterating Pope Francis’ question, “Who am I to judge?” It seems clear that, like the Church, Saint Anselm will be wrestling with these issues for years to come.

President Announces Strikes Against Syria

Despite warnings that Russia would retaliate, President Donald Trump addressed the nation last night and announced that the United States would launch precision airstrikes against military targets in Syria. The United Kingdom and France are joining the United States in the assault. Syria has been accused of repeatedly violating international law by using chemical weapons against civilians.

Shortly after the president’s announcement, the Russian ambassador to the United States said there would be “consequences” for the president’s decision. Russia has since called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. That meeting will occur at 11:00 am EST on Saturday, April 14. A statement this morning by Russian President Vladimir Putin “condemned” the strike, citing concern for civilians on the ground.

While Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that there would not be another attack on Syria unless they continued to use chemical weapons, President Trump said he was “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

President Trump has taken decisive action in a region that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, did not. Infamously, former President Obama referred to Syria’s use of chemical red lines as a “red line” that would necessitate a response from the United States. In the end, President Obama went to Congress for support of retaliation against Syria. Congress did not approve of the request, and no action was taken by the Obama Administration.

A tweet from Donald Trump when President Obama considered a similar airstrike against Syria.

Interestingly, President Trump called on the president to go to Congress at the time. In this strike, the Trump Administration did not seek permission from either Congress or the United Nations. Whatever the president’s history on the issue, he has made clear that the United States will not tolerate repeated breaks with international law.

The decision drew negative responses from both sides of the aisle. Some Democrats were wary of the president’s decision. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, “So Mattis doesn’t want to strike Syria because it risks dragging U.S. into a broader war with Russia and Iran, but he has to do it anyway because Trump tweeted about it. Welcome to the Trump national security nightmare we’ve been waiting for.”

Hillary Clinton’s running mate from the 2016 election, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), called the strike “illegal.”

Some conservative supporters of the president also opposed the decision to launch military strikes. Michael Savage, a conservative radio host, tweeted his opposition, doubting whether Assad was even behind the attacks.

Debates about legality are common after these kinds of attacks, but they echo the ones launched last year by President Trump under similar circumstances. This round of strikes attacked one research facility near Damascus where the weapons were sometimes produced as well as two additional facilities, one that was being used to produce sarin gas and another that acted more as a military command post.

The international response seems to be largely supportive, especially given the inclusion of the United Kingdom and France. As of now, Russia’s retaliation seems confined to the boundaries of the United Nations, but a military response may await.

Cover image from the NY Post.

Ryan Departure Spells Bad News for GOP

On the national political landscape, the talk for nearly two years now has been about the oncoming Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms. Fueled by historically low approval ratings for President Donald Trump, a massive surge in Democrat-related activism, and the historic trends of poor performances by the President’s party in his first set of midterms, the thinking has been that the Democrats have a strong chance to take the House of Representatives for the first time since 2006 and they have a decent shot at making the Senate 50-50. The outlook for both chambers has become far brighter for the Democrats this week.

Just days ago, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) joined a growing list of Republican lawmakers announcing they were not seeking re-election. These retirements are often seen as a concession of the harsh political landscape facing the GOP in November. Ryan is the 38th Republican member of the House to stand down, according to a list published by Pew Research Center. This is the largest number of retirements for a single party since 1992, when 41 Democrats chose to retire. In the 1992 Congressional elections, Democrats lost a net-total of 9 seats but were able to maintain their overall majority in the lower chamber. Thirty-eight retirements, a number that still has time to grow, is the highest total for the Republican Party since 1930, according to the same research from Pew.

This is a very concerning sign for the GOP. Many long-time leaders of the party do not trust their chances for reelection, most of which have historically been considered safe seats, and are choosing to retire than fight on and go out in the disgrace of defeat. The current Generic Congressional ballot, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, puts Democrats at 46.2% and Republicans at 39.6%. This has become closer in recent weeks but is still a wide margin that should encourage Democratic candidates, voters, and donors.

Early on in the election cycle, it seemed like the Republicans would at least be safe in the Senate, simply because the list of seats up this year forces Democrats to defend 10 seats in states that Trump carried. Recent polling seems to indicate that, while Senators like Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) may be in tough races, Democrats are performing well in contests for seats that Republicans hold.

Representative Marsh Blackburn (R-TN) is having troubling holding on to the U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee for Republicans.

A poll from Middle Tennessee University this week found former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen with a 10% lead over Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn in the race to replace Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who this week said that voting for the GOP tax bill may have been one of the worst votes he’s made in his decade in office. While it’s unlikely that Bredesen, 74, will manage a double-digit win in Tennessee, the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama late last year shows it is possible for moderate Democrats to find success in former Republican strongholds.

In Arizona, Republicans may be forced to defend two Republican-held Senate seats at the same time. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who recently railed against President Trump at the NHIOP’s Politics and Eggs event, announced his resignation in 2017, sparking a three-way battle for the Republican nomination between an establishment candidate, Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ-2), and two Tea Party or Trumpist candidates, former State Senator Kelli Ward and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom President Trump pardoned last year for defying court orders protecting undocumented immigrants from illegal profiling.

McSally should be able to hold off Ward and Arpaio and win the nomination for Flake’s seat, but there’s a serious chance that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) could pass away or resign soon, due to complications from brain cancer, and open up another seat that Ward or Arpaio would likely have a strong chance of winning. Either Ward or Arpaio would enter the race with severe baggage; Ward has been endorsed by fascist former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Arpaio was pleased to compare a prison he ran to a “concentration camp.” If McCain remains in office through the election, it is unlikely that he will be able to serve out his complete term, which ends after the 2022 elections. This would open up another opportunity for Ward or Arpaio to run for the seat and, probably, endanger Republican chances in the same manner that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore did in his race in 2017.

Paul Ryan (R-WI) became the 54th Speaker of the House on October 29, 2015.

Ryan is the most senior Republican to announce his retirement, but he  likely won’t be the last. A recent poll found that Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman as the Chair of the House Republican Conference, with a neck-and-neck race in her Spokane-based district against Lisa Browne, the former Chancellor of Washington State University-Spokane. McMorris Rodgers has held her seat safely since 2005. With two of the most senior House Republicans choosing to either step-down or face a far-closer-than-normal election, combined with extreme swings towards the Democratic Party in nearly every special election since President Trump took office, there should be real fear in Republicans about losing control of Congress altogether.

Up and down the country, Republican lawmakers are feeling the pressure for their relationship with the White House – and the wrath of their constituents. It’s worth noting that some of the most popular Republicans in the country are the Northeast Republican Governors who have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the toxic Trump Administration, especially Charlie Baker (R-MA) and Phil Scott (R-VT), as well as New Hampshire’s own Chris Sununu.

Batten down the hatches, it looks like there’s more than a blue wave coming in November. It’s shaping up to be a tsunami.

The cover image is taken from vox.com. Blackburn image is taken from CNBC. The third image is taken from PBS.

Lyons: Dear LGBTQ Students

Dear LGBTQ Students,

This letter is to let you know that you have a right to be here.

I know that this campus doesn’t always feel welcoming. Sometimes our value of Benedictine hospitality doesn’t extend as far as it should. If you’re in the closet, you know that there are people who “disagree” with who you are. If you’re out, you might have faced backlash or judgment from students, professors, or organizations on campus. I know I’ve heard many hurtful things from students and faculty alike.

So, I’m here to remind you that you have a right to be here. We have a right to be here. I swear to you that there are so many people on this campus who support you wholeheartedly and will fight for you with everything they have. There are more LGBTQ students and professors than you may know.

I get how it feels to be in an environment that in many cases does not accept you. We are barred from certain positions or spaces because of who we are. That is called discrimination and it is wrong. I know some days it may feel like nothing is changing. But look at history. We still have a long way to go to overcome racism, but just in the past fifty years, we have made huge strides. It’s frustrating, it’s unjust, it’s exhausting, but I promise that we will get there. Just the fact that you’re here, whether you’re out or not, deserves major praise. (And especially to LGBTQ students of color, you’re fighting two battles at once and you often go unrecognized and uncelebrated. Please let me know if there’s anything I, and this school, can do to be a better ally).

Some days you wake up feeling completely confident (or at least pretty sure) with yourself and who you are. Other days, you wake up and find you’re under attack from people who don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ+. It’s a pain in the ass, but we’re going to have to teach those people. And the best way to do that is by existing as yourself and being proud of your identity (it doesn’t matter if you’re out or not, you make a difference just by being at this school).

Say it with me. Right now. In your head if you want (or you can go scream this from the Alumni Quad, major props if you do):

“I have the right to be who I am without fear of discrimination. I have the right to openly, boldly show my identity without fear of judgment. I have the right to be without fear. I have the right to be.”

We are so damn valid. We are so damn awesome. We are so gonna change the world, starting with this campus.

Yours in resistance to all injustice,
Jenna Lyons

Ginny Lauzon Fights for Her Nana

Once a year, the Saint Anselm community joins together for a night of reflection, celebration, and determination to raise awareness for a disease that had claimed so many lives. Relay for Life is not only a fundraising event for a cure to cancer but a chance for communities to join together and give positive change and support to those who need it. By forming a team and pledging to have at least one member walk around a track for one night at all times, participants get to envision what life is like for a patient who is not allowed to stop their battle with cancer. Ginny Lauzon, a member of the class of 2019, has her own reason to walk the track on Friday, April 13th.

Ginny is from North Andover, Massachusetts and is currently studying biology with a pre-vet path, here at Saint Anselm College. In the past, Ginny has participated in multiple Relay for Life events at Saint Anselm, typically walking for friends and other members of her community, but this year will be different. Two months ago, her grandmother, with whom she shares the same name, was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent major surgery to begin her battle. It was the first time that cancer has hit close to home for Ginny and it has inspired her to start her own relay team after her grandmother, called “Nana’s Fighters.”

Since her grandmother’s initial diagnosis, Ginny says Nana has received numerous flowers and cards filled with well-wishes. Members of her town and church have all reached out to show her how loved and supported she is, and Ginny herself has seen the outpouring of support through her own friends and fellow Anselmians who all pledged to walk with her in honor of her grandmother.

Ginny’s grandmother helps to remind a community that cancer is not something that can slow her down. Her willpower and determination are unlike anyone else’s. Ginny went to see her grandmother after the surgery and walked in to see her grandmother baking Easter cookies. Despite her diagnosis, the original Virginia Lauzon continues to continue her routine as much as she can.

Nana’s Fighters currently has 16 team members and has raised over $1,500 in support of Relay for Life. Ginny has a message for the community, “Even if you’re not walking for someone you personally know or love, I think there is power in numbers—and not just the power of a dollar sign or how much money you’ve raised, but power in people walking for someone they know. Raising awareness and coming together can be just as important.”

Photo courtesy of Ginny Lauzon.

Trump Weighs Options in Syria

Within the next 24 hours, President Donald Trump will be unveiling his administration’s response to news that the Syrian government has used chemical warfare on its people. The president announced that he was canceling a scheduled trip to Latin America so that he could focus on the developments in the Middle East. On Monday, he said his response would come within 48 hours. The clock is now ticking.

Most foreign policy experts seem to anticipate the president announcing a targeted airstrike, but that option may carry risks. Russia has said it will use military force against the United States if it attacks Syria, raising the possibility of a far more devastating international conflict. Russia has aligned itself with the Assad regime in Syria, which is the existing government in the nation that has been rocked by civil war since 2011.

Members of the Trump Administration have had harsh words for Russia and its support of Assad’s government. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Russia of being complicit in the recent chemical attack, saying that Russia’s hands were “covered in the blood of Syrian children.” Haley’s comments are emblematic of the rising tensions between the United States and Russia over the matter of Syria. Despite the Trump Administration’s relationship with Russia, Ambassador Haley told the United Nations that the United States would respond. The nature of the response, however, remains unclear. She even went as far as to say that Russia itself may face repercussions from the United States.

The president took to Twitter to denounce Assad’s chemical attack, calling the Syrian leader “Animal Assad.” It remains to be seen how the president’s language will translate into a formal response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.

Cover photo taken from NBC News.

Jesse McCartney Concert Met with Mixed Feelings

The end of the academic year here at Saint Anselm is traditionally marked by the annual Spring Weekend celebration, which features a variety of events that usually include a concert hosted by the Campus Activities Board. CAB recently announced that the artist for this year’s Spring Weekend Concert is Jesse McCartney, a singer-songwriter who rose to stardom in the early 2000s.

McCartney gained popularity in the early 2000s. In 2003, he released his first solo album which featured one of his most popular songs to date, “Beautiful Soul.” His career as a teen heartthrob in the 2000s further increased with his guest appearances on Disney Channel shows such as Suite Life of Zack & Cody as well as Hannah Montana. This past March, McCartney released a new single, “Better With You,” which will also appear on his upcoming album.

The announcement of Jesse McCartney as the Spring Weekend artist was met with mixed reactions from the student body. Freshman Jordan Cook is looking forward to the concert. “I’ve heard a few of his songs when I was younger. He wasn’t my favorite artist but had some hits that I definitely didn’t mind listening to on the radio. I was a little bit surprised [when they announced Jesse as the artist] but a concert is a concert so I can’t complain with it. I do think it would be a great idea to give students more say in who we choose, like in an election.”

Sophomore Emily Provencher agreed about the need to involve students in the process. “I’d definitely like to see more input from the student body,” she said, “but I understand that this can be difficult when you can’t always disclose all the information. I enjoy a great throwback like Jesse, but I’m not sure I’d choose for it to be my whole concert experience.”

Sophomore Emerald Shea was not impressed by the artist selection for Spring Weekend. “At first when I heard that Jesse would be the artist, I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was actually going to happen.” Emerald does not plan to attend the concert, citing different taste in music as her reason for skipping out. “I’d love to see different, more popular artists coming to our college, but understand that this isn’t always possible due to budgeting and school size.”

Other students, like senior Sam Brandeis, are planning to go to the concert even though they are not pleased with the artist. Sam has never been a die-hard fan of McCartney, but he plans to attend the concert regardless of who performs. “My first reaction to hearing Jesse McCartney was the Spring Weekend Artist was ‘I hope he shows up,’” Sam said, referencing the infamous T-Pain cancellation in 2016. “I have yet to be able to see an artist perform at spring weekend, and I hope McCartney is the exception. I honestly have nothing better to do.” Like his fellow students, he wishes that student input would be taken into account more but understood that “too many suggestions create too much havoc.”

Ryan Whalen, who is currently studying abroad and won’t be at the concert had a hard time masking his displeasure with the artist selection. “My first reaction was pure joy. I was and still am so happy I am not missing out on a real spring concert.” He went on to elaborate, “I am paying to come to the school and would like to have a say or vote on the artist.” Ryan says that he has brought this complaint up before and that he has been told to join CAB. “My reply is: I did join CAB for two and a half semesters and it was as though I had no voice,” he continued. Whalen went on to explain that he felt as though he never experienced a Spring Concert at Saint Anselm, “T pain cancels, Clean Bandit’s performance was nothing more than hip swinging, and now Jessie?”

Junior Alec Flynn posted this image in the SAC 2019 Class Facebook group to protest McCartney’s concert.

Some students took to social media to express their distaste with the announcement of McCartney as the headliner for Spring Weekend. Junior Alec Flynn was one of these students, posting in the Class of 2019 Facebook group that he would be boycotting the concert and encouraged other frustrated students to do the same. “I’m abhorred,” Alec said when asked what he thought of McCartney being hired as the concert artist. When asked if he was a fan of McCartney growing up, Flynn stated, “I liked the power rangers, too, but you don’t see me walking around campus in a red jumpsuit.” Alec Flynn, like other students, expressed a desire to see more input from students in the process but admits that this would be a difficult process, “Once you do that then there are hoops to jump through. CAB would say ‘okay here is who we can afford’ then when there’s a clear front-runner or someone not half-bad they would say ‘oh well his/her music isn’t very appropriate or Anselmian’ or whatever. Bottom line is this school has messed up a spring concert for 3 years in a row now, and there seems to be no one really calling them out for it.”

Abbie Reynolds, the student in charge of the Campus Activities Board, was transparent about the process for selecting a spring artist. “CAB works with a middle agent that gives us a list of artists that are within our budget, and then we are able to take a look at the list and decide on a couple of different artists. Our middle agent will go back and see if any artists are interested in us!” She explained that there are many factors that need to be taken into account when searching for artists, such as cost and finding artists willing to perform “a clean set that will respect our Benedictine and Catholic values.”

As for the planning process, there is a Spring Weekend Committee that consists of smaller sub-committees that handle specific areas of making the whole weekend of events possible. “The spring weekend committee as a whole is for anyone that wants to be involved in planning spring weekend.” When asked about input, Reynolds explained that due to contract negotiations, it is not possible for CAB to release information prior to the signing of the contract. However, all students are welcome to attend CAB meetings to voice their opinion.

“Our meetings are always open to the whole student body and we always want to hear student input! We always have members in CAB listening to what they hear in Dav or from their friends to get a gauge of what students want,” Reynolds said.

CAB relies entirely on student volunteers for all of the events they host on campus. CAB meetings are usually held on Wednesday nights and are open for all students to attend.

In addition to the Spring Weekend Concert, on April 26 CAB will be hosting a “Found Footage Festival,” which is a comedy show built off of old VHS tapes found at yard sales and thrift stores. “It’s like America’s Funniest Home Videos, but better!” Reynolds explained. In addition to this, there will be Paint Dance Party hosted by CAB and SGA on Saturday, April 28, the night after Jesse’s concert.

Cover image from Fairmont State University.

#WhyIWrite: Megan Miller

Female empowerment is at the core of who I am. Since my freshman year here at Saint A’s, I have been volunteering on a crisis line advocating for victims of sexual assault over the phone and in person. After over two years, I may know how to handle more situations, but the work itself never gets easier. I am reminded time and again of the prevalence of sexual assault, both on and off the Hilltop. So when an article was released by the campus newspaper denouncing the existence of rape culture, I’d had enough. I needed something different.

For a while now, I have dreamed of something modeled after Middlebury’s website It Happens Here, where survivors of sexual assault share their stories. But I also have been reminded time and again of the importance of meeting my community where it’s at. There is a reason why sexual assault on this campus is so underreported, and it is clear that in many instances survivors are not willing or ready to come forward—and I don’t blame them.

But after reading this article denying rape culture, I needed something different, because I have witnessed rape culture firsthand. I need survivors to know that they matter and that we believe them. I need survivors to know that any unwanted kissing or touching is sexual assault, and they have every right to label it as such. I need survivors to know that there are people who will stand with them no matter what.

In many ways, I have been disheartened this year with the extreme back-and-forth that exists on this campus. It is time for a source that fosters truth and dignity and allows all voices to be heard—especially those that are systematically silenced.

Our school consistently preaches the Benedictine values of love, hospitality, and community. We fall short of honoring these values when individuals are left outside of this supposed circle of compassion. I write so that we may include everyone in the circle of compassion and truly exhibit Benedictine values. Cornel West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” I write because I intend to love people in public.