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Sexual assault prompts prayer service

| Monday, September 22, 2014

About 100 members of the University community gathered at the Grotto on Monday afternoon for a student-led “Prayer service for healing,” sponsored by Notre Dame’s student government. The prayer service was organized following an e-mail alert sent by Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) on Friday afternoon informing students, faculty and staff that a sexual assault had been reported in a women’s dorm on the northeastern area of campus.

20140922, 20140922, Annmarie Soller, Grotto, Sexual Assault Prayer ServiceAnnmarie Soller| The Observer
The alert, the first one the community has received this school year, sparked the prayer service, which kept with a tradition started by student body president emeritus Alex Coccia and student body vice president emeritus Nancy Joyce last fall.

Senior Francis Vu opened the service with a prayer.

“We gather in the peace of the sacred Grotto, joined together, united in Christ to support and pray,” he said.

Vu asked those in attendance to pray not only for the healing of the victims, but for the perpetrators as well.

Senior Alison Leddy, a resident assistant in Cavanaugh, delivered a call to action focusing on the responsibility of the community in ending sexual violence on campus.

“On Friday, the day we all received the first email report of the year, the White House launched a national campaign called ‘It’s On Us’ to end sexual assault,” Leddy said. “This movement seeks to bring awareness to and support survivors of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country. While this ambitious and worthy campaign took life in Washington, our community in South Bend feels the impact of this problem closer to home and to our hearts.

“We are not any college; we are not any community. We are ND. … When we chose to attend this University, which seeks to educate the mind and the heart, we chose to be more,” Leddy said.

“One is too many. What affects one of us affects all of us.”

In 2013, the White House launched a sexual assault prevention campaign with the tagline “One is Too Many.” On campus, Coccia and Joyce adopted the mantra and began Notre Dame’s own “One is Too Many” campaign, which involved pledge cards signed and placed outside dorm rooms, an online petition and videos put together by student government.

This year, student body vice president Matt Devine told The Observer that sexual assault prevention may take off in a different direction.

“We had a lot of great visibility with ‘One is Too Many’ last year. Perhaps this is an opportunity to move in some way; we’re looking at more action words … if there’s something we can do to incorporate the idea of an active bystander into the title, then we’d like to,” Devine said.

“The prayer service today is very important, because it’s the first one. It’s the first-year students’ first introduction to something like this, and it’s important for them to understand that this is our response,” Devine said.

Senior Grace Carroll ended the prayer service with an invitation for all to light a candle at the Grotto and to continue praying for an end to sexual violence.

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

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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