Former Amherst College student Angie Epifano’s recent firsthand account of the night she was raped by an acquaintance on campus shook the community, opening the eyes of the Amherst administration, as well as other colleges across the country, who have now started to re-examine their sexual assault policies. And now, Amherst students are looking to each other to help repair their devastatingly broken campus.
The school’s first magazine about sexual violence, called It Happens Here, recently posted an open letter to the Amherst College community, along with the photographs of 11 men and women who were sexually assaulted on campus. They’re seen holding the words friends, teammates, assailants or the administration said to them following their assaults—none of which were supportive or sympathetic.
In the letter, It Happens Here co-founder Dana Bolger wrote:
I have followed our college community’s reactions to Angie’s story. The outrage toward our school’s administration is just and appropriate. That our administration owes a formal, public acknowledgment of, and apology for, its treatment of survivors goes without saying. That it is time that we demand from our administration transparency, dialogue, and priority of students’ safety over Amherst’s image likewise goes without saying.
Although Bolger finds fault in the Amherst administration, she also urges everyone to “look inward at [their] own complicity” and recall a time they silenced a survivor. She says:
Angie’s article has revealed to the rest of the Amherst community what survivors here have known since our own rapes: it is time to demand radical change from our administration. What I hope you will read in Angie’s article and see in the photographs below is that it is time to demand transformation from yourself.
Amherst President Biddy Martin has detailed how the College plans to move forward and address these issues, writing that: “Clearly, the administration’s responses to reports have left survivors feeling that they were badly served. That must change, and change immediately.”
The other students behind It Happens Here include Kinjal Patel, Sonum Dixit and Jisoo Lee, who took all the photos you’ll see below. The project was also done with the inspiration and permission of Project Unbreakable.