This past Saturday I took a trip to NYC and found myself standing next to the newly famous brave little girl staring down the Charging Bull on Wall Street. You can tell that this fearless little girl is standing strong; she makes one feel confident that the bull is up for a challenge; that she isn’t going down without a fight. This girl celebrates all of the people who resisted injustice, inequality, a voice unheard. In today’s issue of The New Hampshire we have our own bull fighter, Jordyn, who is published on page 13.
On A1, you can read about SHARPP’s display on street harassment that was completely taken down by the MUB staff in response to, “multiple members of the UNH community,” voicing concerns that, “the language in some of the placards was beyond what the reasonable person would expect to see in a public space,” according to Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick. The wall had phrases such as, “flash your boobs,” “hey ladies, you up for a good time?” “hey baby, you got a boyfriend?” and “I’ll buy you a drink if you suck me off.” All real phrases said to real students at UNH.
While these and other phrases may be difficult to read and process that these were real things said to students in this town we call home, silencing the issue by taking down the reality of verbal harassment is a serious problem. Silencing these issues puts a muzzle on the brave voices that want and need to be heard. Reality is not always pretty, UNH is not a perfect place where nothing bad happens and no harassment is experienced, and the MUB and administration closed this platform for discussion. Not to mention, members of SHARPP were willing and open to replacing panels that people were finding “offensive.”
You can read Jordyn’s beautifully written letter to the editor on why keeping the display up and the meaning of taking it down for more insight on the overall cause. However, I am here to bring to light what Jordyn is doing and how she is setting an example that I have often encouraged many other students to follow: standing up for what she believes in. Jordyn saw a justice issue, she stood up and she spoke out. She put her name on something of meaning to her, which is a true act of bravery. I find that although many are willing to stand up in a crowd, it takes a true act of bravery to stand up as a singular individual.
When this story hit state news and started getting shared all over Facebook, Ali Jurta, the executive editor of The New Hampshire from 1992, reached out and wrote how she had written editorials on similar struggles with the university shielding the public from problems of sexual harassment and assault that happens on campus. Jurta calls for the university to respond to why situations related to sexual harassment and assault were shielded. That was 1992. Twenty five years later in 2017 and Jurta and I are writing editorials that could be published next to each other.
The girl staring down the bull is a symbolic reminder that even if there is no crowd there to back you up, you have to stand strong and fight. Whether that means fighting for the acknowledgment of street harassment on campus or refusing to give a seat up on the bus, one voice can teach the world a song, one voice can show that one voice can be strong.