Kelly Gallagher ’22
On Friday, November 16, the College of the Holy Cross held its highly anticipated ENGAGE Summit: Where Do We Go from Here? After the October 27 alleged hate crime, Holy Cross students, faculty, and alumni sent a letter to the College, requesting that it address on-campus discrimination and violence with action. Taking cues from the requests made in this letter, the College canceled all classes, athletics, and extracurricular activities to allow to entire community to come together for an afternoon and reflect on campus issues.
The Summit aimed to educate students on issues such as discrimination and how to stand up against it. In addition, it demonstrated to administration what actions students would like to see taken in order for the administration to do their part in making campus a safer, more inclusive environment.
The Summit consisted of three workshop sessions. Over 50 panels were available between the first two hour-long sessions, tackling issues such as sexual violence on the Holy Cross campus, what it means to be an Ally of the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ students’ experiences at Holy Cross, other minority students’ experiences, and how to approach cultural topics with empathy and sensitivity.
Many panels confronted uncomfortable, even divisive, topics, but with the intent of figuring out how to heal and what actions to take next. Panels were organized and held by individual students and faculty members, the Chaplains’ Office, the Title IX Office, and student organizations such as Pride.
The third and final session consisted of a community dialogue held in Kimball. The dialogue touched back on the Summit’s overarching theme – where do we go from here? As such, it was an appropriate end to the Summit, reminding students that the Summit is only the beginning and providing guidance on how to proceed.
In addition to the sessions, the Student Art Society installed a series of posters that asked questions pertaining to on-campus discrimination and violence. Students were then invited to post their answers on anonymous notes. The posters remain on display across campus.
Student Nina Masin-Moyer ’22, who attended the “Writing Interventions” panel, said, “I thought the Summit was a really insightful experience because it made me consider how small changes, such as the everyday language I use, can make a really big impact on marginalized peoples’ day to day lives.”
The Summit was voluntary, but many of the events had high attendance rates. Hundreds of attendants showed up to a panel called “How an Instagram Account Started a Dialogue: Sexual Assault on the Hill” during the second round of workshops. With the original Stein classroom crammed and a long line still forming in the hall, the session was moved to Seelos theater, where a handful of students still had to sit on the floor of the packed auditorium.
Engagement was high as students eagerly responded to facilitator Stephanie Chaudoir’s questions. The group brainstormed what steps individuals, as both sexual partners and members of the wider community, can take to reduce sexual violence.
The panel, like many others, emphasized the fact that the Summit is not an overnight fix, but it is the first of many steps that need to be taken to reduce on-campus sexual violence. The panel encouraged students to take small steps of their own.