Jessica Russo

Silence to Sound: Combating Sexual Assault on College Campuses

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Today, our society is facing numerous problems but people often forget or choose to ignore an epidemic that affects so many young people today:  sexual assault on college campuses. Individuals think that it would never happen to them or anyone they love—their brothers, sisters, mothers, or even their friends—but, unfortunately, this is not the case.  I, personally, came to this realization when I found out that my friend was sexually assaulted.  After hearing this story, I knew I needed to do something to bring awareness about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses so that no one will have to experience what my friend and so many others had to go through.

When I found out that the Millennium Campus Network was giving an opportunity to students to create their own campaign about an issue that they were passionate about, I knew that this would be the best way to help those who have been sexually assaulted. I was overjoyed when I received the official email that my campaign was selected.  Immediately following the launch of my campaign, Silence to Sound, in August 2016, at the 8th annual Millennium Campus Network Conference in D.C. at Howard University, my team and I began working diligently to spread our message and promote the Silence to Sound campaign throughout our campus.  In order to reach out other individuals besides those who attend College of the Holy Cross, we have set up social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. These accounts give the most up-to-date information regarding our progress and how to be involved in our mission.  We have launched our website On the website, one can find out about my team, global webinars we have done sponsored by MCN, a database filled with resources for victims of sexual assault, personalized for each college campus and much more. We are working with the BARCC, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and they have graciously helped us with some of the resources available to survivors at different campuses in Massachusetts. As of right now, though, our resource list only consists of some schools in Massachusetts and is, therefore, not fully comprehensive because we lack the personnel to research for us. We are looking for volunteer researchers to help us with this database.  In April, we were able to partner with the Women’s Forum, a student-run organization at my school, in order to have a “Take Back the Night” walk where men and women marched in silence with lit candles around the campus in remembrance of survivors of sexual assault.

As we get closer to our first year mark since our launch, we have some new goals. We wish to have a team of researchers in order to have more of a complete list available for survivors of sexual assault so that they can get the support and help that they need. We are also hoping to begin partnering with other organizations that share our same mission of ending sexual assault on college campuses as well as students at other universities who share the same ideals.  In addition, we continue to seek funding in order to expand this campaign.  We are hoping to receive money from the Ignite Fund from the College of the Holy Cross, a program designed to give funding to student-based projects that can help the community, after we present our ideas and progress in the fall when school has resumed.  This will really help us to maximize the impact we can make on not only my own college campus but on others as well.

Men and women alike should be able to receive their education and receive a degree without the fear of sexual assault. We can be the ones to motivate people to take off the blindfold that shields them from the truth about rape on college campuses and make them see the horrible reality of it. We, young leaders of the future; however, must remember one thing: change is possible but our generation needs to have the passion, determination and perseverance to make that change happen. As our former United States President Theodore Roosevelt most eloquently said, "Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind." We need our words to turn into action, but it has to start with us- the architects of the better and brighter future. People will hear our voice but only if we make a sound.

By: Jessica Russo