This is the third part of the three-part series about Title IX. This part talks to a current senior and an alumna of Florida Southern about their work towards helping victims of sexual assault and bringing awareness to the topic.
Part 3: How two FSC students advocate for survivors
In the space between the potentially intimidating process of submitting a formal complaint and wanting to tell a story, lies the FSC No More Campaign and the Lkld Collegiate Survivor Network. These two organizations aim to give voices to victims of sexual harassment or assault while also providing them resources.
FSC’s No More Campaign is a campus organization led by senior Gracie Westerfield that seeks to bring students together to create a network of well-educated individuals who are devoted to fulfilling the mission of the No More Campaign — increase awareness, inspire action, and fuel culture change.
“I noticed a lack of a platform, that’s why I created FSC No More Campaign,” Westerfield said. “Creating FSC No More would allow peers to confidently speak up and share their experiences even if they weren’t looking to go straight to admin.”
The campaign also seeks to fundraise for organizations that help victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence globally and on a local level. According to NOMORE.org, “NO MORE has grown to become the largest and most successful domestic violence and sexual assault awareness/engagement initiative in history and is now its own 501(c)(3) public charity.”
An Instagram page anonymously created on March 19 received over 180 statements alleging sexual assault and harassment from Florida Southern students.
The account, @istandwithfscwomen, which was taken down for a period of time but is once again an active account, quickly gained popularity, with 700 followers within a single day of the account being created.
Westerfield helped formulate the Open Letter which emphasised requests to “develop a committee,” “include a public partnership with FSC No More Campaign,” to equip the Counseling Center with counselors who “specialize in survivor trauma and can help with dating violence experiences,” and more. The full open letter can be read at this link.
“As I communicated with Dr. Kerr, the letter was not critical of our Title IX office, it was more suggestive on how to better improve the reporting system and the resources available and changes that we can make – and they’ve acted quickly. I would say there’s still a lot of room to grow, though,” Westerfield said.
After the influx of anonymous reports sent to the @istandwithfscwomen and then increase in conversation about sexual assault and harassment amongst Florida Southern students, Westerfield noted that the FSC No More campaign saw an 80 percent increase in membership.
“It [FSC No More Campaign] definitely has gained momentum through this movement,” Westerfield said.
Westerfield is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega (AXΩ) chapter at Florida Southern. AXΩ’s philanthropy is Domestic Violence Awareness and aims to educate on these topics. Alexandra Zimmer, a 2019 Florida Southern graduate and also an alumna of AXΩ, has dedicated herself to researching and taking action with the topic of campus sexual assault.
For her senior thesis, Zimmer landed on the topic of “Campus Sexual Assault.” She originally wanted to conduct her research on the Me Too Movement, but said at the time there was not enough data to conduct a thorough thesis. As a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Zimmer saw first-hand throughout her college experience how this topic affects people through their philanthropy.
Part of the thesis requirement was to do an analysis on current standing policy, where it falls short and potential ways to improve it.
“With everything going on lately and the Instagram page, I think it’s a really good opportunity to talk about how small schools like Florida Southern aren’t immune to this sort of thing,” Zimmer said. “At Florida Southern, we have a tendency to live in a bubble and think that some of those big school cultures don’t exist, we are just as susceptible to them.”
“A big part of the 2020 update to Title IX was that it was actually codified that the schools were obligated to do things [in response to a Title IX report or allegation],” Zimmer said.
Zimmer created the Instagram account @lkldcollegiatesurvivorntwk, which has provided another platform for personal stories to be shared as well as be a resource for all things relating to campus sexual assault with informative posts such as “Debunking Myths About Sexual Violence” and “The Importance of Digital Consent.”
The Lkld Collegiate Survivor Network’s website launched April 30 and includes “more information on the topics discussed in infographics posted…plus you’ll find all the survivor stories, letters to survivors, and resources shared on this page,” according to the announcement post.