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Speaking Out Against Discrimination

April 1, 2019 5:05 PM
Dear Members of the UMBC Community,

As campus leaders working in community to prevent and address discriminatory conduct, including sexual violence and misconduct at UMBC and beyond, we feel compelled to address demeaning content published by The Retriever staff in the paper’s April 1 (April Fools’ Day) edition. While intended as satire, the content has harmed many in our community and may be viewed as creating a hostile environment that accepts and normalizes predatory sexual behavior and sexual assault.

In the context of UMBC’s commitment to inclusive excellence and community actions to create a safer and more caring campus climate for all, we are deeply concerned about discriminatory content presented in any context. The Retriever’s circulation of degrading and humiliating language about women and people who identify as LGBTQ, and its normalization of toxic masculinity, is unacceptable within UMBC’s values.

To build an inclusive community and invite dialogue around these important issues, we have reached out to The Retriever. We will engage them in conversation around the impact of language and satire as it intersects with the experience of sexual violence. We believe in taking action to create space for conversation and learning around these concerns together. In doing so we aim to build mutual understanding with the goal of making our campus community safe, inclusive, and empowering for everyone. We hope to empower others to do the same when it feels safe and appropriate to do so.

We invite all who want to stand against sexual misconduct and sexual violence to make your supportive presence felt during Sexual Assault Awareness Month by joining with us at one or more of these upcoming campus events:

Stand-Up Screening: Cameron Esposito's "Rape Jokes"
Tuesday, April 2, 6 – 8 p.m. in The Commons Sports Zone
To kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Women's Center and We Believe You are hosting a screening of Cameron Esposito's stand-up routine, “Rape Jokes.” “Rape Jokes” is a stand-up special about sexual assault from a survivor's perspective. Esposito explores how rape jokes have entered mainstream comedy and provides a powerful critique of rape culture. After the viewing, the Women's Center will have a few activities for viewers to process and react to this powerful piece, as well as an opportunity to discuss survivorship, consent, and how mainstream comedy perpetuates rape culture. This event is free but donations to RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, will be accepted.

The Clothesline Project T-Shirt Making for Survivors and the Clothesline Display on April 8 
Throughout all of April, opportunities to make shirts for UMBC's Clothesline Project will be made available in the Women's Center. Community members wishing to make a shirt can let someone at the front desk know they are interested in making a shirt and a staff member will be able to assist you. A full display will be held on Commons Main Street, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., on Monday, April 8. A small display of the Clothesline Project will be at Take Back the Night on Thursday, April 18.

Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault Workshop
Thursday, April 11, 4 – 5:30 p.m., for UMBC students in the Women's Center. Please register via myUMBC if you plan on attending.

Take Back the Night
Thursday, April 18 on Commons Main Street.
The survivor speak-out will begin at 6:15 p.m. and will be followed by a march on campus. Participants should arrive no later than 6 p.m. to find a seat and check out the resource fair before the survivor speak-out begins. Bring your rally signs (which you can make in the Women's Center during the week of April 15). Follow #UMBCtbtn on social media for updates and join the Facebook event. You can learn more about UMBC's TBTN by following the blog post series "What You Need to Know about Take Back the Night."

As always, we encourage those who have observed or experienced sexual violence/misconduct to seek support as needed at any time. There are many resources available on campus and in the community that offer confidential medical support, confidential psychological/emotional support, and interim protective measures (e.g., no-contact orders, housing adjustments, academic concerns). For emergency situations, contact campus police via 410-455-5555 or local police via 911.

University Steering Committee
Retriever Courage Implementation Team
University Leadership
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