IC Club looks to give a voice to the voiceless
During a typical meeting of the Ithaca College Futures club, you can find students from all five IC schools gathered together in one classroom. The club poses open ended questions in order to cultivate an environment in which members of the club can openly discuss sensitive topics like race, gun control and gender fluidity. Students share their personal experience, which contributes to an enriched conversation and every week the discussion is different.
One of the conversations they’ve had, which was about sexuality, brought up topics relating to sexual assault and harassment. From this conversation, IC junior and futures e-board member Tessa More came up with the idea to create an anonymous platform for those who have been impacted by sexual assault and harassment. More suggested that such a platform would be a viable outlet for those individuals who want to share their stories and experiences.
Fellow e-board member Isabel Goldberger added that the platform could be used to raise awareness about the prevalence of the issue and the mental health ramification that can be experienced hand in hand with a trauma like this.
The platform, which would take the form of a Tumblr style blog, would allow anyone to submit something. More said that the platform would allow for a diverse submission of work. She said that there is no limit to what can be submitted and published on it, whether it’s a film, a narrative or a painting, any way for these individuals to express their truth and feel supported. IC junior and e-board member Candace Cross describes it as a place where anyone can share their story in a way that empowers them. The hope of the submissions is that other survivors will be able to relate to the experiences people share and get the reminder that they are not alone in this experience.
“I know a lot of survivors who get a lot of comfort from talking to other survivors and sharing their stories,” Goldberger said.
Although anyone can submit to the platform, the site will be monitored and reviewed to keep trigger warnings in mind. Often with Tumblrs, there is a problem with people trolling and posting hateful comments. In response to these, More suggested that they would not allow comments to be anonymous and reach out to any person posting negative comments and find out why they think the way they do in order to keep the conversation going.
Futures’ goal is to work with different groups around campus to make this platform come to life. They hope to start by targeting it towards the local area and then see about expanding it into a nationally recognized project.
Cross pointed out that they want to take action beyond the dialogue that flows in the meetings. “Our club is all about putting our words to work,” Cross said. She noted the importance of social media activism and said that the dialogue shouldn’t fizzle out just because media isn’t highlighting the issue anymore.
The Futures club stresses that now, more than ever before, people are feeling as if they can speak out about their experiences, but there is still some apprehension. When the club had the sexuality discussion, the group didn’t predict that the discussion would take a turn towards sexual assault, and when it did, as e-board member and IC junior Mihir Siddartha pointed out, he wasn’t sure how to respond to what people were saying.
“At some point I found myself thinking defensively, but then I was like,’I can’t do that’ because that’s not what’s correct,” said Siddhartha. He explained that hearing other’s point of view helped him develop a more informed and critical perspective about the definitions of sexual assault experiences.
The group hopes to get the platform off the ground next semester. More said that when they pitched it to the members of the club, everyone was enthusiastic about the idea.
“People come to Futures because they’re looking for a way to be involved, but they stay because they care about the issues we’re talking about,” said IC junior and Futures founder Michael Taormina.
Futures hopes to expand onto other college campuses as a way of continuing the dialogue among students about critical issues. The club is hoping this platform will help form a community of support for survivors as well as help to provide them with the resources they need to help them get better.
Christine McKinnie is a third year Emerging Media major. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Futures meets in CNS 115 every Wednesday at 9 pm.