Q&A with LMU Survivors: “It is a bigger issue than most people might realize”

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Illustration: Daisy Daniels

Q&A with LMU Survivors: “It is a bigger issue than most people might realize”

By Raven Yamamoto


Content warning: This article discusses issues of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. 


In early October, a new Instagram page drew attention as it shared gut-wrenching stories of sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment. They had one thing in common: they were all the stories of LMU students. 


LMU Survivors is an Instagram page dedicated to sharing the stories of survivors of sexual assault and misconduct at the university. Modeled after similar pages at other universities like USC Survivors and UC Berkley Survivors, LMU Survivors is unaffiliated with LMU and anonymously collects and publishes student testimonies. The page grew rapidly in followers with each new post, leaving many curious about where the page came from so abruptly in the semester.


Agency was able to get in touch with the founders* of LMU Survivors and ask them some questions about why they started the page, what the community’s response has been like and what they believe LMU can do better to prevent sexual misconduct.


What inspired you to start LMU Survivors? Why now?


We were inspired to create this page after realizing there wasn't a space for the LMU community to share their experiences with sexual assault and misconduct. One of us is a survivor and felt passionate about crafting a safe space for people to share without judgment, anonymously. Overall, we wanted to create a space where people felt like they could share their story without fear of retaliation, and have it be a cathartic and freeing experience. We also wanted to create the page to raise awareness and show that sexual assault happens on our campus and [that] it is a bigger issue than most people might realize. 


Did the changes to Title IX regarding how colleges can respond to complaints of sexual misconduct on campus motivate you in any way to make these stories heard?


Title IX changes were definitely a catalyst to creating the page. We think that the changes to Title IX make it more difficult for survivors to feel comfortable reporting and sharing their stories. These stories are already so incredibly difficult to share, so we wanted to give survivors an option to share without feeling the pressure of filing a report if they do not wish to do so.

How has the response been? Have you received any comments or messages of support, any pushback, etc.?

The response to our page has been amazing, and we have received so much support. We receive DMs thanking us for creating this space, telling us how cathartic just the act of writing down their story was, and offering us suggestions for how we can grow and expand moving forward (like adding resources) — which we so appreciate. There has been some pushback when we have posted stories that reference fraternities. However, our response is that we have no affiliation to LMU, and therefore we have no obligation to LMU Registered Student Organizations. We simply serve as a vessel for survivors to share their stories, so we publish them verbatim unless we are expressly asked to edit them by the survivor.

Tell me about the submission process. About how many submissions have you gotten since starting the account and how can people share stories of their own? Is it only limited to students or open to all members of the LMU community?

Our submission process is through an anonymous Google form which is linked in our Instagram bio. We do not collect emails or any personal information. The form asks whether or not you want comments turned on or off when we post your story, and then has space for you to type as much or as little as you want. Any LMU community member who has experienced sexual assault or misconduct who would like to share their story is welcome to do so. We were honestly not expecting that many people to share so quickly, but we have received 40 submissions over the past month since we started, and get new submissions at a pretty steady rate. We are both happy at the fact that so many people feel comfortable sharing, but also reminded that this is a real issue in our community. 

How do you think LMU can improve awareness and/or prevention of instances of sexual assault and harassment on campus? Do you think they're doing an adequate job as is? Why or why not?

We think LMU can definitely improve awareness and prevention of sexual assault and harassment on campus. While the two go hand in hand, more preventative measures should be taken. A lot of times, LMU does not take survivors seriously or cases seriously; even when there are resources provided, sexual assault gets quickly swept under the rug in order to protect LMU's image. In reality, it's the students that deserve to feel protected. We think the conversation needs to continue after the freshman orientation classes and there needs to be more communication, clarity, and awareness surrounding LMU's reporting and hearing process.

*The identities of the founders have been kept anonymous at their request.

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