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By Mick Powell and Heather M. Turcotte, Associate Editors
“The collective voice of the voiceless is still one of the most powerful tools of change.”
When we had the idea for this forum, we were both in what we knew to be our final semester at our university—both of our “contracts were up.” We had worked together for two and half years—long enough to be sutured together through struggle—trying to get the administration to acknowledge and work with us to change the culture of gendered, racial, sexual, ableist, and xenophobic violence on our campus. We were in Heather’s office, speaking in whispers because the walls were thin and the neighbors had built their careers by colluding with state violence—surveillance their specialty. We could’ve been screaming. We should’ve been screaming. We had been screaming in a variety of ways against the university’s sanctioning of violence. So many of us affected by the administrators’ denials of violence, faculty refusals to practice the politics they proclaimed, and the constant rewriting of our experiences into one homogenous, monolithic lie by administration, faculty, staff, and students who refused to account for their privilege.
We struggled. How did we, and how could we continue to, survive? What more could we do to disrupt the silences that permeated our resistance to institutional and daily lived violences?
Importantly, we were part of something else too—a collective, non-institutionalized feminist group that refused to be silenced and who named the violence in a variety of sites—we organized, we protested, we made demands, we wrote, and we talked non-stop. We, as a collective, reached out to movements beyond our institution including, The Feminist Wire, so that we could feel the support of others experiencing and working together to end these violences, and creating new possibilities of life. With the help of a large network of feminists, we dealt with the consequences together when the backlash got stronger—and it definitely got stronger. In each moment that we grew louder, the institution worked harder to silence us. All of us in this feminist collective had endured incalculable amounts of violence at our university and at the hands of the university elite. We are all still experiencing the affects of institutionalized violence and our experiences there. And many of us continue to experience new forms of violence from those administrators, professors, and students who profit off this violence—it does not end. But through our relationships and desire for Liberation, which began years before by our fore-feminists who made it possible for us to meet in the classroom, we keep demanding and making new ways to survive—we name the truths of our lives collectively.
This forum is another beginning point of connection to do the collective “work that needs to be done;” it is another site in which to expose interpersonal and structural violences and continue to build strategies of Liberation. The personal is still very much political and we—in the midst of the Fourth Wave—refuse its privatization.
By naming colleges and universities as sites of multiple forms of violence, contributors attempt to hold the institutions, and the people that profit off them, accountable for their transgressions. This forum comes at a particular time of neoliberal conservative backlashes and growing amnesias around on-going anti-colonial, anti-imperial, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, Black, Third World, queer, and Indigenous Liberation movements. It comes at a specific moment of over sixty Title IX complaints, systemic police brutality, ongoing settler colonialism, and white supremacy that sanctions the lynchings, kidnappings, sexual violences, and mass murders of individuals, students, and communities here in the U.S. and around the world. This forum discusses these violences in order to hold important conversations on survival, self-care, resistance, solidarity, and continued coalition building.
The University is a contentious site. It is the manifestation of state violence and a landscape that reveals colonial contradictions, which builds collective resistance—and thus, it is a potential site for decolonial work.
After many months, we are proud to present a compilation of voices that were shut down and silenced in spaces that were supposed to be the place for growth, connection, and change. In what follows in this forum is a compilation of hardships and their subsequent survivals.
We would like to wholeheartedly thank all of our contributors for sharing their important words, their patience with this process, and their solidarity across academic borders. We would also like to express our deep appreciation for The Feminist Wire who continues to give us strength, purpose, and loving insight when we are tired and bruised from this work. We are so grateful to share this space with all of you.
The “Collective Voice of the Voiceless”: Campus Violence, Resistance, and Strategies for Survival Forum is for those who have been and continue to be physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and financially harmed at the hands of the academy’s intersecting structures of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, and capitalism. This forum is for those who have resisted and survived. It is for our friends and feminists who did not survive. It is for the generations in the making who will carry all of our stories in their bones and create new insights and life-worlds.
This is a space for the “voiceless” who are the most powerful agents of social change.
In love and solidarity.
Publication Timeline for
“COLLECTIVE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS”:
CAMPUS VIOLENCE, RESISTANCE, AND STRATEGIES FOR SURVIVAL
Monday, October 26
Introduction, Mick & Heather
What I Should’ve Said Then, Emily Rooney
Tuesday, October 27
Taking What’s Mine, Alex-Quan Pham
Wednesday, October 28
The Silence of Burning, Grace Kuell
Thursday, October 29
Collective Love in a Time of Tension, Mick Powell
Friday, October 30
A Report on #WeAreHere, Lynden Harris & Madeleine Lambert
What I Owe, Brendane Tynes
Good & Quiet Men, Andrew Tan Delli Cicchi
Monday, November 2
Clapping Back and Losing Friends I Never Liked, Terese Marie Mailhot
Tuesday, November 3
Faculty Survivors and Campus Sexual Assault: A Conversation, Alissa Ackerman and Simona Sharoni
Wednesday, November 4
Safe Space, Anonymous
Thursday, November 5
Speak: My Own Transformation from Silence, Hannah Robb
Friday, November 6
UConn’s Dangerous Politics: Valuing Profits over Students’ Safety, Lisa Vickers
Monday, November 9
Deleted Scenes and Improper Acts: Scars from Reoccurring Feminist Disciplinary Engagements (February 2010), Shither
Tuesday, November 10
Sexual Consent is NOT Color-Blind: A Black Feminist Call against NYU’s Neoliberal Politics and White Feminist Ideologies, Akiera Charles
Wednesday, November 11
For the Professor, Mick Powell
Thursday, November 12
End to Beginning, Sa Fa
Conclusion, Mick & Heather