Panel Of Students and Faculty Discuss #MeToo

Hannah Long, News Editor •

A panel of speakers gathered in the Emory & Henry BOV Monday, February 26 to discuss the significance of the #MeToo movement. The event was hosted by the E&H Women’s and Gender Studies Collective. English Professor Kathleen Chamberlain, Sociology Professor Shelley Koch and Biology Professor Christine Fleet are members of the Collective, and organized the event.

Chamberlain said the event was meant to focus on two questions: “What does Me Too mean for us locally?” and “What now?” She continued, “I think it’s important not to try people in the court of public opinion, but it’s important to recognize the scope of the problem.”

The panel featured five speakers: Project Coordinator for the E&H CARES (Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education for Safety) program Alana Simmons, member of the Bristol chapter of Indivisible (a progressive group) Meghan Carty, senior Emma Grace Thompson, Ampersand Advisor and Programs Coordinator Joe Vess and Political Science Professor Sarah Fisher.

The panel was split on the long-term impact of #MeToo. “As a political science professor,” said Fisher, “I’m inherently skeptical that things can change quickly. What’s different now is the pervasiveness of social media” and the availability of “institutional resources in a way there maybe wasn’t before.”

Others were more positive about the possibility of change. Vess said, “A lot more men and boys understand now that gender-based violence is more than just rape,” and called for “men holding wmen accountable.” Carty agreed, saying that she thought “things have changed in the last 30 years” with men “calling others on it.”

Simmons expressed some concern, saying she has “serious reservations about the #MeToo movement because the face behind it is a white woman.” She highlighted the fact that sexual violence doesn’t merely affect white women, but people of color and men as well.

Simmons’ comments come soon after actor Brendan Fraser alleged in a February 22 interview with GQ magazine that he had been sexually assaulted by former Hollywood Foreign Press Association producer Philip Berk. In another high-profile case last year, actor Terry Crews told his own #MeToo story on Twitter.

The event used interactive activities like live polls. Students could text their answers to a specific number and watch results on a screen in real time.

Chamberlain said she thought the event was important to organize because “I do think that communication and conversation are essential and I want to do whatever I can to keep conversations going….I’ve been learning how much we all are in our bubbles even though ironically we are more connected to the outside world through our phones than we ever were before, but there’s so much conversation that didn’t happen.”

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