Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal visited the University on Tuesday, Sept. 2 to speak about the Monument Quilt, a fabric quilt designed as a space of public healing for survivors of sexual assault. The senators also met with a group of about fifteen student activists from the collective known as the Feminist Underground, which organized the Quilt’s visit to campus.
Chloe Murtagh ’15 attended the small meeting with the senators, and cited it as opportunity to discuss sexual assault at the University.
“In the meeting, we shared with the senators our intimate experiences with sexual violence, rape culture and injustice in the way these issues are handled at Wesleyan,” Murtagh wrote in an email to The Argus. “They were extremely sympathetic to the student perspective and agreed that University systems of adjudication are often inconsistent and ineffective in delivering justice for survivors and the community.”
Murtagh added that the group discussed potential legislation with the senators while they were on campus.
“We discussed the positive aspects of the Campus Safety and Accountability Act and also the need for much more legislation—especially enforcing the important suggestions made in the White House Recommendations,” Murtagh wrote.
Currently, Blumenthal is building support for a bill that attempts to combat sexual assault on college campuses. He has traveled around the state and held discussions on ten college campuses, including Connecticut College and Yale University. According to Murtagh, Blumenthal expressed interest in returning to the University to hold a round table discussion with student activists and survivors about this legislation.
Both of the senators gave speeches on Foss Hill, where the Monument Quilt was on display for the afternoon. Blumenthal spoke about the success he has had with congressional efforts regarding sexual assault legislation due to the vitality of the issue.
“At a time when getting something done in Washington is so very difficult, when bipartisanship is almost impossible to see, when partisan paralysis and dysfunction are so common, we found there was bipartisan agreement in the U.S. Senate, across ideological barriers, that something should be done,” Blumenthal said. “And since then, more senators have joined us, [from] both sides…This idea is one whose time has come.”
Murphy spoke about actions that should be taken beyond legislation and also discussed how change needs to come about on campuses.
“Ultimately, this gets better because of an organic effort, campus by campus, to address this issue,” Murphy said. “…I know for me, it’ll move me to an even higher level of action when I go back to Washington.”
Additional reporting contributed by Tess Altman ’17.