The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

“We Will Not Be Silent!” Students Organize Protest in Response to Recent Sexual Assaults


Several students gathered on the campus quad of Fitchburg State University, less than a week after a student reported a sexual assault in the school’s library. Those in attendance wrote messages on cardboards and poster boards. Some read “campus should feel safe” and “we are NOT your objects! We are HUMANS too.” They held their signs and stood in solidarity along with members of the university’s administration.

Word of the sexual assault was sent to students in an email on Sunday, October 8th, notifying the student body that the assault in the campus library happened in the morning between 10:30 – 11:30 am. The assailant was described as a male approximately 19 years old, standing 5 feet, 5 inches with an unknown accent and warned students in part:
Subsequent investigation yielded reports from additional female students who said they had recently been approached at other campus locations by a suspicious male, with a similar physical description from the allegations in the library.

On Friday, October 13, campus police released another statement announcing the investigation has been closed and that “no criminal charges will be filed in this case and the matter is considered resolved.” Thus leaving more questions than answers.
News of this latest assault sparked protest organizers by senior Kailey Norton and junior Laura Tilbury to take action.
“It’s a frustrating and upsetting time for everyone here,” says Kailey. “We want to let the offenders know that we are going to be standing up, and we will not be silent when things like this happen on campus.”

This is the second assault on a woman the student body has been made aware of since the beginning of the semester. Last month, a recent graduate of Fitchburg State was attacked by a male after leaving a current student’s off-campus house on Highland Avenue. A suspect was arrested and later released. In this latest incident, campus police are only saying that the investigation is still ongoing. Emails to the university’s communications office also referred any inquiries from The Point’s news staff to police.

“They [administration] need to do better,” says Laura Tilbury, co-organizer of Tuesday’s protest. “I know that there are only certain details that the university can disclose to us due to privacy and the law, but with the increase in crimes now on campus, it’s got to stop.”

Other students attending the protest shared similar frustrations, many directed to Dr. Richard Lapidus, President of Fitchburg State University, who was in attendance. “I showed up here because it’s important to me. I genuinely love this school, and I want people to feel safe,” says student Delaney Lora. “We’ve just got slammed with all of this at once, and so what’s really happening here? How did we get to this place?”

Dr. Lapidus listened to a handful of students expressing the same sentiments. “It’s hard,” Dr. Lapidus explained after speaking with angered students. “I feel very bad, obviously, for the survivor and for survivors that have come before this woman. There’s a variety of agencies working on this. Everyone’s taking it seriously.”

For one sexual assault survivor, who asked to remain anonymous, the university, campus police, and Dr. Lapidus are all falling short. “The fact that I have to think about getting sexually assaulted on campus is such a loss for the university and such a loss for every student here,” the student shared. “It’s really hard to feel like I’m doing a service for myself going to school when every school I’ve been to has made me feel unsafe.”

The transfer student added that she hates feeling forced to live out her campus experience sitting in her room. “Everywhere I am, I feel unsafe. I have to look over my shoulder for a strangler and some five-foot-five guy on campus and in the library.”
The protest organizers hope this is just the beginning of conversations around sexual assault at Fitchburg State. Kailey Norton is prepared to keep these protests going. “I know that the Student Government Association is working on some things right now. Nothing is confirmed yet, but we definitely want to discuss that more with people on campus who can make a change. We will not sit by and let sexual assault happen here.”

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About the Contributor
Tonia Magras
Tonia Magras, Editor In Chief
Tonia Magras is a transfer student at Fitchburg State University and the editor in chief for The Point. She is majoring in Film and Video with a Honors minor. Tonia is finishing her undergraduate studies and will be pursuing a masters in hopes of one day becoming a professor of film and video studies. Tonia is also principal owner of Hull Bay Productions where her and her husband/partner Gregory are finishing their second feature film, More Than Our Skin.

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