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We all need to do something

| Monday, September 7, 2015

“Sexual assault can happen to anyone.” Those words from the two previous NDSP crime alerts still ring in our heads two weeks later. It’s both daunting and discouraging to come to the realization that it does happen here at Notre Dame. These emails serve as a sobering reminder of our failure to protect our brothers and sisters and that the founding trust of this community — where we proudly claim “Love thee, Notre Dame” — has been broken.

It is important to acknowledge this reality: we have failed each other, the survivors of assault and our values as an inclusive and Catholic institution. The question is, how will we respond and heal this egregious breach of trust?

“Sexual assault can happen to anyone.” These are our friends, our roommates and our classmates. No matter how confident, smart and careful; any one person may face this horrific and repulsive crime.

Our entire community is reeling from these reports of sexual violence. Such wounds to our community call us to respond with whole hearts and strength. We must recognize and affirm the dignity of the survivors of sexual violence — as well as others impacted — through our full support and committed response.

We may be tempted to respond to these crimes with anger. We understand this anger, and we feel it, too. But anger is not enough. It may instead enable barriers to tangible change. We must not allow ourselves to remain angry, further dividing our community. Becoming angry with administrators, perpetrators or Notre Dame does not affect change. We must transcend our anger with compassion, healing and, most importantly, with action.

Individual action is the foundation of all bystander intervention training and Student Government’s “It’s On Us” campaign. While many have joined, we need every student to adopt a sense of relentless responsibility to their brothers and sisters.

This relentlessness will grow into an effort of full force, driven by our love for Our Lady’s community and driven by the strength and resolve of every student, faculty and staff to end sexual violence. Next time you hear someone question our efforts as a University, be the one to encourage them to get involved.

No one has all the answers. We don’t need to do everything, but we all need to do something. The obligation falls on each of our shoulders, and we must respond wholeheartedly to each report of violence that tears apart our Notre Dame family. Awareness, reflection and prayer are necessary, but insufficient. What can you do? What will you do?

It is time to get involved. Get started at itsonus.nd.edu. Take the pledge to become an active bystander. Learn more about resources and support services at csap.nd.edu. Our efforts will not end here. Together we will overcome our fear and anger with lasting hope and our collective responsibility to each other. Working together, we will one day eliminate sexual assault at Notre Dame.


Bryan Ricketts
student body president
Duncan Hall


Nidia Ruelas
student body vice-president
Lyons Hall


Dan Sehlhorst
student body chief of staff
Zahm House

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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