CSM Focuses Week of Action on Domestic Violence


CSM completed their semesterly clothesline project event on Instagram. (Jennifer Hoang/The Fordham Ram)

The Committee on Sexual Misconduct’s (CSM) Week of Action took an unprecedented turn when it was held on Instagram from March 30 to April 3. 

This semesterly campaign highlights issues pertaining to sexual harassment and assault and presents the issues through a series of interactive activities on campus. The in-person events were impossible this semester, but co-chairs Emma Budd, FCRH ’20, and Lindsey Sullivan, FCRH ’20, worked to complete the project anyway. 

This semester’s focus was domestic violence, in response to more time spent indoors worldwide due to lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders that were put into effect in March. A New York Times article reported that there has been a surge in domestic abuse cases and that hotlines are lighting up with abuse reports. 

Budd said domestic violence was not the original intended focus of this semester’s Week of Action, but she and Sullivan felt it crucial to emphasize something that has been an unfortunate consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Though staying at home is the safest way to avoid COVID-19, home is not a safe place for everyone,” said Budd. 

Instagram posts shared over the course of the week included resources for hotlines and live chat systems that those in danger can utilize for assistance. They include the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline, the Battered Women’s Justice Project and the Anti-Violence Project, a 24-hour hotline for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are experiencing abuse. Sullivan stressed the importance of live chats, as phone calls may not always be safe for those living with their abuser.

Budd and Sullivan expressed their sympathy for those students at Fordham who were forced to return to an unsafe space after evacuating campus.

“My heart is with students in this situation,” said Budd. 

In terms of Fordham-specific resources, Budd recommended contacting Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), which has been able to meet with students online through video chat or a phone call. 

Additionally, CPS’s website lists programs held on Zoom for dealing with the pandemic. They include “Maintaining Structure and Motivation,” set to be held on Monday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., and drop-in mindfulness workshops held Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Budd said CSM is also a resource if anyone would like to speak to her or Sullivan personally. 

Some Week of Action traditions were maintained, such as the Clothesline Project. This is a national project created to honor victims of sexual assault by expressing the emotions associated with assault or harassment on a t-shirt.

Budd said it is an opportunity for survivors to share their stories and for others to offer support. In place of a clothesline of t-shirts which is typically hung outside the McGinley Center, students had the opportunity to submit messages on Instagram. They were then designed on digital shirts by Sullivan’s sister Claire, an art student.

“I drew the design on my iPad and used the colors teal and purple because they represent sexual assault and domestic violence awareness,” Sullivan’s sister said. 

Budd said she was overwhelmed with the results. “You’re valid. You’re strong. I believe you. I stand with you,” one message read. Another read, “You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.” 

Another virtual event was a Netflix Party screening of “Unbelievable,” a drama mini-series based on a true story about a teen who was raped and the events that followed. 

Budd said the main takeaway of the show was how law enforcement should handle sexual assault cases and the contrast between the mishandling and proper handling of a sexual assault case. Sullivan said she believed this contrast offered a valuable lesson. 

“Having a conversation with a survivor should be one that does not put too much pressure on them, but lets them know they are heard, believed, and loved,” she said. 

In an Instagram post on April 1, CSM shared words written by poet Haley Jakobsen. 

“I am so sorry this happened to you. It is completely unfair. I see, hear, and affirm your truth,” read the post.