I do not need to rehash the events of this semester for anyone. It has been difficult for all of us. But as it comes to an end, I am left with newfound admiration for the type of people in our student body.
Through everything our community has weathered, what has stood out to me most is how so many individual responses to grief have together created a comprehensive and unifying whole. Our student body is filled with unique individuals — each with something different to offer and contribute.
Particularly in the past two weeks, responses to the Rolling Stone article have been abundant. As I explained to my family during Thanksgiving break, when you provoke a community filled with such driven, leadership-oriented people, there is bound to be an outpouring of action-based calls.
There are the people who organize protests and rallies, whose passions have moved them to make their voices heard, displaying that we do not stand for sexual assault. There are the people who avidly learn everything about the new policy and are working toward systematic changes. There are the people who pour their efforts into making sure our student body remains sane, with kind gestures such as those who gave out flowers or the Lawn residents who opened their doors to the community before the last home football game.
There are people who are dedicated to their close friends and always check in to make sure they are OK. There are people who are adamant about changing the culture that surrounds us. There are people who have been working toward preventing sexual assault long before this happened, who now have the spotlight thrust upon them — and continue to do wonderful work.
Academic departments have dedicated their expertise to understanding a niche part of this overwhelming issue. The English department hosted a discussion of how we can find the language to express our feelings, and how we can use literature as an outlet or framework for understanding the problems at hand. Likewise, the Media Studies department held a dialogue aimed at understanding the media issues behind the article.
And, of course, there are the people who attend all of these events in an effort to help the movements that were started by others. They are the people who sit back, listen and think hard about what to do before acting. These are the people that make the initiatives of others worthwhile.
I am sure that I didn’t come close to mentioning all of the diverse ways in which students have responded to the article, but I am so inspired by what each individual has to offer and how strong our community is as a result. Taken by themselves, none of these events or gestures would solve the problems we are faced with. But together, our community is able to work toward a solution that incorporates everybody’s individual talents. We need each other not only to survive, but also to thrive.
While this semester has been a trying one — one that has made me question many things — I am leaving it behind with a real appreciation for the fortitude of our student body. We are not passive. We are all connected by a desire to make a difference, to do what is right and to support our fellow Hoos. In many ways, these hardships have forced us to show our true colors — and these span across a spectrum that is much wider than orange and blue.
Kelly’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.