The room was quiet as community members walked around viewing the Monument Quilt laid on the Hall of Presidents floor on March 29. The quilt, which has been traveling the country collecting squares for the last three years, was brought to campus and displayed for the afternoon.
Created in 2013, the quilt is intended to create a public healing space by and for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. By stitching together the stories of many, it aims to not only share individuals’ experiences, but also provide support.
“[It] felt very reverent,” said Allie Fry, the women’s studies program coordinator who organized the event. “It was powerful to see members of our community engage in a meditative and empathetic way.”
In addition to viewing the quilt in a safe space where people could be contemplative and comfort each other, Colgate visitors had the opportunity to contribute a square and participate in workshops.
The event began with a Brown Bag luncheon, called “The Monument Quilt: A Guide to Upsetting Rape Culture,” in the Center for Women’s Studies. The Brown Bag featured Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, co-founders and co-directors of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the organization that created the Monument Quilt; and Deletta Gillespe, a Monument Quilt activist and artist. Panelists discussed several ways they are working to bring visibility to the culture of consent and promote conversations.
“Colgate is very focused on prevention of sexual assault,” said Fry. “We need to be just as focused on supporting the survivors in our community. I thought it was important to bring the quilt to offer a space that is specifically by and for survivors, that prioritizes their healing, that shows that there is no one way in which we experience or respond to violence.”
The quilt will be finished when it comprises 6,000 squares — the number of sexual assaults that will take place during one week, statistically speaking. The finished quilt will eventually blanket the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during a weeklong display.
“Monuments are a space for survivors to heal and reconnect with community, and it’s an important part of the healing process to have that kind of a public venue,” Brancato told the Maroon-News. “We all see the magnitude of the problem and feel driven to do what we can to decrease the statistics, to end sexual assault, and to think of it as a problem that can end, not something we have to accept.”
This event was made possible by staff members in the Center for Women’s Studies and student volunteers, and through support from the Colgate Arts Council, the Center for Women’s Studies, the Shaw Wellness Institute, LGBTQ Initiatives, the Office of Advancement, Murray Decock ’80 and Sally Campbell, and the Network.