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Student government holds prayer service in response to reported sexual assault

| Tuesday, November 22, 2016

More than 30 students, staff and faculty gathered at the Grotto on Monday evening for a prayer service to end sexual violence.

Students congregated at the Grotto on Nov. 22 for a prayer service to end sexual violence. The service was held in response to an email students received on Nov. 18 reporting a sexual assault. Katie Galioto | The Observer

Students congregated at the Grotto on Nov. 22 for a prayer service to end sexual violence. The service was held in response to an email students received on Nov. 18 reporting a sexual assault.

Student Government sponsored the service in response to a crime alert emailed to students Friday afternoon, reporting an alleged sexual assault that occurred late Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning.

“We are receiving an email like this in the holiday season,” junior Chris Wang, Student Government director of Gender Relations, said in a reflection at the service. “It was supposed to be a pleasant few days before we go back home, reunite with our family members and celebrate the holiday with loved ones while giving thanks to the blessings around us. It is not supposed to be like this.”

This is the second sexual assault reported to Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) this academic year.

“To many people, an email like this will remain just an email — a few words, with the title ‘crime alert.’ And that is it.” Wang said. “People who are not hurt go back to doing their normal routine right after they exit the mail app on their phones.”

“Things go on — school, homework, parties,” she added. “Things always go back to normal.”

But there is a question the campus community should be asking itself, Wang said — how long does it take sexual assault victims to heal?

“What we should be thinking about is ways to stop the crisis from happening in the first place,” she said.

Wang referenced the greeNDot initiative, a program designed to train members of the campus community as active bystanders in potentially violent situations.

She used the program’s slogan: “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”

Attendees at the service moved closer together to embrace and sing the University’s alma mater as dusk began to fall on the cold November evening.

“Notre Dame is our home. Our home sweet home,” Wang said. “We should all take an active role to protect this place — our place. We need to treat each other as our own sisters and brothers.”

Fr. Bob Loughery, rector of Sorin College, led the group in prayer for those who experienced sexual assault in their lives. At the conclusion of the service, he encouraged attendees to light a candle in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.

“When a light shines in the darkness,” he said, “darkness cannot overcome it.”

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, the Observer's current Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's a former Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

Contact Katie