Professor brings storytelling to life

With all the stories being shared about Alaska on national networks, most Alaskans see beyond the shallow exterior of these Hollywood acts; however, their stories often go untold to the larger community and people hungry for true adventure stories from the 49th state.

Rob Prince, associate professor and filmmaker at UAF, is trying to change that with his show, Dark Winter Nights, dedicated to providing a stage for Alaskan storytellers to tell real Alaskan stories.

Making Alaska home

Originally from Michigan, Prince was offered a job with UAF in 2005. He took the job in part because it sounded like an “adventure” and with their one-year-old daughter in tow, he and his wife decided it was now or never.

“We thought, if we’re going to do something crazy, now would be the time because it’s not likely we’re going to want to do this later. And so we thought we’d come up for five years, like a lot of people do and have our little adventure and then move on,” Prince said.

Initially, it was only three years before heading south for a brief time.

“We had to go back down to the lower 48 and deal with a situation there, and then I just missed it so bad that we came back.”

Prince acknowledges the pull Alaska seems to have on out-of-staters like themselves.

“My favorite analogy is it’s like that beautiful person that you date who treats you terribly, but you also have never met anyone like them, so you just can’t break up with them,” Prince said.

He continued, “That’s kind of like the mean ex-girlfriend but who is also super pretty and you felt great when you were with them but at the same time they could be so cruel to you. That’s sort of what it is, it’s so not like anywhere else. And there’s all kinds of adventure up here, but it comes at a heck of a price.”

Amanda Byrd, one storyteller for the show, shares this love for Alaska as well. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she said she appreciates the down-to-earth nature of Alaskans.

“One of the things I love about Alaska is you can be pushing a cart in Fred Meyers, you can be riding your bicycle, you can be running, you can be paddling down the river with somebody next to you who is dressing like you, like, whatever,” Byrd said.

“And you don’t know that they are a multi-millionaire and they own the fanciest house on top of the hill because they don’t flaunt it. They’re like, ‘no, I wear my Carhartts. I like Carhartts.’ That’s what I like. People are real.”

Given the combination of the incredible setting that Alaska provides along with the down-to-earth, adventure-seeking types the state attracts, there are many stories to be told.

Along with these factors, Prince said Fairbanks is an ideal place to share a storytelling event.

“I feel like the stuff that I’ve done up here with the storytelling program would have just been more noise in the Lower 48. I mean, who knows? There’s a lot more clutter you’ve got to breakthrough down there. And up here, when I came up with the idea to do it, it wasn’t an innovative new idea,” Prince said.

“They’ve been doing this everywhere. They have one in Anchorage; they have one in Juneau and some other smaller ones. And it’s already the Moth, it’s already this American life, Snap Judgment,” said Prince.

“I just happened to be the first one who put it together,” he continued, “but anybody could’ve put it together, and it probably would have been successful because it’s already proven to be so successful. But here I’m more or less the only one,” Prince said.

Beginning stages

Originally, Dark Winter Nights started at Pioneer Park in April 2014. After an overflow crowd at the Civic Center that November, they moved to Hering Auditorium, which seats 1284 people, the following spring.

Prince said, “It had been my dream to get there. I was like, ‘Someday we’ll get to Hering if the gods shine down on us, you know, if everything comes together,’ and so it was pretty exciting to get there so fast.”

For the show, seven storytellers are pre-selected with one chosen randomly from the audience. For as many stories as Alaskans have, they aren’t readily sharing them, according to Prince.

Prince said, “We really have to reach out. We do not have enough people submitting stories. I think that in part might be kind of an Alaskan thing that we’re not big into tooting our own horns up here. You don’t come up here because you want to show everybody else how great you are you know, we’re all kind of like very even playing field.”

For Sean McGee, a storyteller at Saturday’s event, Prince managed to convince him to share a story. As a former police officer, McGee has countless stories, but one story really caught Prince’s attention.

“He’s been working on me [to tell a story] for almost three years,” McGee said.

“For quite some time I wasn’t sure if we could talk about the incident that, you know, there are all kinds of rules about what we can say and everything, so he kept on me, pestering me,” McGee said.

McGee checked in with the troopers and got the okay to tell the story, which he shared Saturday evening.

For Byrd, her start began at the previous show, where she was selected as the random storyteller. When asked by Prince if she might have more stories to share, she named a couple before landing on the winner– a story about a research turned rescue mission out on the Gulf of Alaska. She also shared her story Saturday evening.

Coming back to storytelling

Often seen as an ancient art, storytelling has seen a resurgence in recent years.

“We kind of forgot storytelling, or we just reinterpreted it,” Prince said.

With storytelling shows gaining popularity around the country, Prince speculates on the roots of its current momentum.

“I used to subscribe to flying magazines and there’d be like all the articles about here’s the FAA and here’s how you learn to do this and do that. And then in the last page before the end it would be some story of ‘How I Survived…’ this thing,” Prince said.

“I would always want to read that part. And you look at radio programs and such that were on the air. They might have one small part that was a little human interest story you know, and TV will have had that in TV news, so like end with a nice little human interest story,” Prince continued.

“I think that at some point in the nineties particularly with This American Life, they figured out that that little part, people really liked that a lot and if you made a show that was just that that would be particularly interesting combined with innovative way that they told the story.”

Along with storytelling resurfacing in communities, it is also playing an important role in business and journalism.

“It’s become the tagline for this department, Communication and Journalism, ‘Tell great stories,'” Prince said, “So yeah, it’s definitely become very popular.”

There is value that comes from these stories both for individuals and the community as a whole. Jessie Robertson, a researcher at UAF and storyteller for Dark Winter Nights, is currently in partnership with StoryCorps (a nationwide organization aiming to share and preserve stories) to record stories within the scientific community, as a way of making science more accessible and relatable to a wider audience.

“I think [storytelling] makes people more relatable. […] We’re really in this stage of politics and everything where everyone seems pretty disconnected, that and social media, like we’re actually not as connected as we think we are. So I think people like to just kind of go and actually hear somebody be vulnerable, funny and tell something ridiculous as a way of connecting people,” said Robertson.


Prince credits a few specific inspirations for the show including podcasts like “Snap Judgment” and “This American Life.”

“This American Life [has been an inspiration] just in terms of how they’ve revolutionized radio storytelling in a way that made them so interesting. So we’re constantly trying to find stories that match that model.”

“I’m very much inspired by Gallagher,” Prince continued, “who is like an eighties comic who would smash watermelons on stage, but he also had just bizarre props and stuff. That’s my dream to make this a real fascinating show.”

Getting Dark Winter Nights into the Hering Auditorium was originally Prince’s ultimate goal and while last weekend’s show drew over 600 people, Prince is aiming for his next target.

“Now, [getting into Hering is] not enough. Now it’s ‘some day we will sell out’ and that’s taking its time. I’m hoping next November we might actually pull it off.”

Last weekend’s show drew an estimated 600 guests

The next live event will be held Saturday, November 17, 2018 at the Hering Auditorium. Along with the live shows, Dark Winter Nights is broadcast the last Saturday of the month (September through May) on KUAC-FM 89.9 at 7 p.m. and is available on iTunes podcasts or at

What depression looks like for UAF students

Alaska is notorious for seasonal affective disorder, which a 1992 study said affected 9.2 percent of a random sample of 283 Fairbanks residents. Hoping to update some of that mental health research, Kathryn Harrod interviewed UAF students about their experience with depression.

“There is not a lot of research going into Alaskan college student life so it kind of opens up a new demographic,” Harrod, an undergraduate researcher, said.

The study was based off of the Social-Ecological Model, which was developed by the CDC to understand what factors into violence. The model includes four levels of influence: societal, community, relationship and individual.

“We found that there is another [level] that needs to be included for Alaska in particular which is an environmental level—because we have the darkness in the winter time,” Harrod said. “So that could potentially benefit research in Alaska or other places with seasonal affective disorder.”

The goal of Harrod’s study is to find out what factors helped or hindered students coping with depression at UAF. Two undergraduate students are in the process of analyzing the audio from the ten interviews—looking for similarities and differences.

Harrod said students brought up things that are commonly known to ease depression, such as exercise.

On UAF Research Day, April 10, Harrod presented on the use of photo elicitation as a method of interviewing.

Photo elicitation

The 10 participants were instructed to bring two photos with them to the interview: one that represents what it’s like to be a student living with depression and one that brings the participant hope in the face of depression.

“People who brought in the photos, they really seemed like they put effort into it and put some good thought into it and it really reflected how they felt,” Harrod said. “So I think that photo elicitation in general could even be useful for interviews involving other mental illness or difficult topics.”

Photo elicitation is a method designed to help prompt the interviewees to discuss topics. Adding the visual element seems to evoke more feelings, memories and information, according to a 2002 review by Douglas Harper, a professor of sociology at Duquense University.

“It was just a really nice starting place,” Harrod said. “Kind of just breaking the ice instead of just jumping right into questions. It helped us relate on a level before we got into the more complicated stuff.”

Feeling through photography

At the Research Day showcase, Harrod’s poster had a few examples of photos that participants took and what those students had to say about them.

One participant’s photo was just of the interior of their backpack—loose change, pens and crumpled pieces of paper lining the bottom.

“Yeah, that photo just makes me cringe, cause it’s just so dirty at the bottom,” they told Harrod. “It makes my skin crawl. It doesn’t feel good … it’s kinda what ends up happening when the depression takes over.”

Many of the examples reflected this photojournalism style of chronicling the participants experiences as they occur. One example was very different. It was more like a self-portrait—made with thought into what was in frame and how the photo was edited to be desaturated.

“And so I guess my picture. … I chose to have it in not-realistic colors, kind of like grey and bleak, because that’s how you feel ‘cause there isn’t colors in the world,” they told Harrod. “I chose to have it with my computer because that’s how you spend your life as a student is with your computer. And I chose to have it, like you can’t see my face because you don’t want to be seen when you’re in that way. And I chose it with a crumpled up tissue because that’s reality. Usually there’s tears.”

Harrod noted that one thing that was clear from the photos was that depression can affect people in many ways.

“Depression isn’t just one thing,” Harrod said. “Even in these photos, participants went and brought up specific parts of their life that they found most important and it was different for everyone. There was some correlation, but really it’s not just one thing. You can’t just look on WebMD and see this is what depression is.”

Addressing student fee adjustments

At the senate meeting on April 15, student government was visited by representatives from Student Affairs, DRAW, Student Health and Counseling Services, and Transportation Services. The staff members as well as Vice Chancellor Champagne joined the meeting to answer questions about student fee adjustments over the last year and projected into next year’s fees.

The Student Affairs representatives discussed the Student Life fee which contributes to SAO and student organization funding. The fee is currently $45 at CTC and $50 at UAF for students taking three or more credits. For next year this fee will increase at an overall rate of six percent.

DRAW Representative Mark Oldmixon addressed the SRC fee increase. The fee increase, $135 for UAF students and $75 for CTC students, will primarily help with improvements to the facilities, funding OA trips, increasing DRAW operations and staffing, and creating more wellness and ice rink programming.

The Student Health and Counseling Services fees are projected to be $150 for students taking six credits during fall and spring semesters, and $100 for summer students for next fiscal year.

Parking, shuttle services, head-bolt repair, and lot maintenance are the main concerns for Transportation Services. The Transportation Services fee costs students $22 for anyone taking three or more credits per semester.

Call For Senator Resignation

During Director Melissa Clark’s officer report she passed around a letter requesting Sen. Daniel Dougherty to resign from the senate on claims of evidence of his unwillingness to represent the student body to the best of his ability, which is in direct violation of ASUAF’s bylaws and constitution for elected or appointed officials.

Election Results

Congratulations were given to next year’s president and vice president pairing, Dawson Mann and Melissa Clark. The elected senators for next year are Kristopher Voronin, Sierra von Hafften, Lisa Gilbert, Jack DeCorso, Chiebuka Lebechi, Taylor Seitz and Benson Hoover.

Socratic Society

Bill SB 190-026 in support for UAF Socratic Society: Philosophy Club was passed unanimously by the senate to assist the club in funding for their annual Ethics Bowl, which will occur on April 28 in the UAF ballroom.

Op-Ed: Surviving white feminism as a “minority”

When I signed up for my first women and gender studies class I was ecstatic. You can imagine the joy of a blossoming activist, receiving what is promoted to be a professional education. However, unveiling the syllabus left me with the utmost disappointment.

There were no sections covering women of color; there were barely sections delving into feminism outside of the western uprising of burning bras, wearing pants, and showing ankles. It disheartened me, but it was to be expected. No one teaches that feminism wasn’t historically inclusive, and that is the biggest issue within itself because it’s an open refusal to acknowledge its racist and heteronormative oriented history.

Westernized outlines of feminism usually only outline the industrial world and its majority demographic issues. This is under-representative of those who suffered the most severely, the most often, and those who spearheaded conversations but didn’t receive credit for their voices.

Women such as Marsha P. Johnson are not commonly recognized as influential despite her prominent voice and presence in the historic Stonewall riots. American feminism is often treated as a one dimensional conversation where only activists that fought for “women’s suffrage” are taken into account. However, women’s rights were exclusive to white women at this time.

Until 1973, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer + (LBGTQ+) community were seen as mentally ill and legally receiving shock conversion therapy. Inclusivity wasn’t a conversation, and often times those who do not lie on the intersections of marginalization do not cultivate these conversations within their activism today.

The phrase that frustrates me the most is “women received the right to vote.” This is usually said as a full sentence with confidence. There is usually no clarification, no follow-up, no correction. Native American women didn’t officially receive the right to vote in America until 1924 under the Indian Citizenship Act, and until 1957 certain states still had laws in place restricting this right. Black women didn’t receive the right to vote until 1965 under the Voting Rights Act.

There is a large portion of history when the words such as citizens, men, women, people, were only inclusive of certain demographics. It is important to recognize throughout history there has been a standard surrounding who qualifies as human that is not representative of people from “minority” backgrounds.

One recent situation that can serve as a clear example of white feminism is the actress Rose McGowan’s transphobic exchange early this year. McGowan is the prime example of a white feminist.

A white feminist is someone who addresses feminism without the consideration or acknowledgment of the roles race and gender play in the marginalization of other demographics of women. These kinds of feminists are usually highly praised for their pussy hats and freshly shaved heads. They align with the activist label with no serious activism under their belt other than voicing in the name of white cis women.

In July of 2017 McGowan made a comment on RuPaul’s podcast “What’s the Tee” stating the following: “I talk to my trans friends and I say you’ve never asked me what it’s like to be a woman. You’ve never once asked me what it was like to grow up as a woman, what’s it like to get a period, what’s it like when you grow breasts and people are suddenly screaming at you on the streets … because they assume, because they felt like a woman on the inside. That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman. That’s not living in this world as a woman.”

RuPaul is a well-known drag queen, songwriter, author, artist and the producer of the television series “Drag Race”. “Drag Race” provides an outlet for members of the LGBTQ+ community to indulge in self expression through drag while competing.

During her recent talk discussing her novel, “Brave”, at Barnes & Noble, McGowan’s activism was called into question by another woman regarding this comment. She confronted McGowan stating, “I have a suggestion. Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks away. I have been followed home –.”

McGowan interrupted her “We are the same. My point was, we are the same. There’s an entire show called ID channel, a network dedicated to women getting abused, murdered, sexualized, violated, and you’re a part of that, too, sister. It’s the same.”

The issue with McGowan’s retort is that she, like most feminists from privileged demographics, refuse to acknowledge that there is someone suffering more. There is a substantially different experience due to differences in levels in oppression in terms of race and gender. Those levels of calamity cannot be thrown in to a women’s suffrage cauldron because all experiences are not the same. The voices of those persons who do suffer more frequently and severely should be supported and uplifted rather than alienated.

Empathy is lacking among todays self-proclaimed feminists. When an experience is foreign to them they attempt to place themselves into the shoes of the oppressed rather than amplifying our stories. “I know how you feel” is a very different statement than “I do not know how you feel but I can empathize and support you.” You don’t need to understand our experiences in order to be humane. Relatability and drawing parallels should not be your first goal when you hear someone else’s trauma.

Surviving white feminism as a minority doesn’t take patience. It isn’t your job to be calm, considerate, or make room for those with the privilege to be ignorant in your activism. It also isn’t your job to educate. It isn’t the job of the severely oppressed to create soft, comfortable, safe spaces for those from privileged demographics. It isn’t your job to change your tone, voice, or posture. It is the job of the privileged to start listening.

Club Spotlight: Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking

Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking is a club that anyone can visit to talk about economics in a respectful environment. Meetings start out with a set or rules about respect, such as waiting in queue and not talking over one another. Members have a specific set of hand gestures to know when people want to speak next or add a comment to the current discussion. Economics Professor Sherri Wall created the club as a way to connect with her students more.

“SWEET has been fabulous, this is my favorite time of the week, engaging with the best and the brightest students on campus from multi-disciplinary backgrounds. Plus, we have had dozens of speaks come up,” Wall said. “I initially started SWEET because I wanted a forum to interface with some of these fantastic students I encountered in class.”

Before each meeting they decide on a topic, read up on it, and then discuss it at the next meeting. Members at the March 11 meeting discussed the pay gap between men and women UBER drivers. Past discussions have included Free, Fair and SMART Trade, Sam’s Club Catastrophe, and Alaska Gasoline Development Corporation (AGDC) Natural Gas Pipeline Agreement with China Sinopec.

SWEET is a way for students to keep up with economic news and give or form opinions about these current events.

“Economic discussion,” said Destiny Dowling, the club president, “is the goal of the club.”

SWEET meets in the Kayak Room in the Library every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The club is open to the public, and they provide dinner for those who join them. Though Professor Wall will no longer be working at UAF after this semester it is currently unknown if SWEET will continue.

For more information about SWEET readers can visit their OrgSync or their blog.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month kicks off on campus

SAO assistant Nikki Crenshaw Manning at the SAAM kickoff booth as NDAC assistance Chia Muas participates.

Sticky notes that lined the walls of Arctic Java read “I would not have PTSD,” “I wouldn’t be afraid of being touched” and “Everyone looks out for each other.”

April 4 was the kickoff for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and Arctic Java was donned in facts, a survey, artwork from various students, and shirts from the clothesline project. Those not affected by sexual assault and those who have been affected were prompted to add sticky notes about what a world without sexual assault would look like to them. Student Activities Pro Staff Lisa Latronica and Student Activities Assistant Nikki Crenshaw manned a booth promoting awareness of SAAM.

On the far back wall there was an interactive display that allowed people to learn about the statistics of sexual assault and the feelings of others. People could colour parts of the display.

Event goers were encouraged to stop by the booth and spin a wheel to test their knowledge, learn something new, and spread the word and win a prize.

Landing on “tell me a fact,” a participant was asked to tell Crenshaw and Latronica a fact they knew about sexual assault. She walked over to the interactive display.

“Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the US,” the participant said when they came back to the booth.

Another participant gained the chance to win a prize if she shared a SAAM event on social media. She found an event, shared it to Facebook and walked away with a SAAM water bottle.

As people left, they were asked to fill out a survey about their knowledge of sexual assault, regarding if they felt like they would help anyone who was assaulted and how many events they have attended. This survey appears at every SAAM event.

For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month visit the NDAC Facebook page.

Letter to the Editor: Why our student government is failing us

The UAF student government, ASUAF, is failing the student body and its partnering organizations. According to their website, “The Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, or ASUAF, is YOUR Student Government,” and they pledge “to take action in the best interest of the student body and the university community,” among other responsibilities. As an important group they have shockingly little student involvement and active participation. During most senate forums the lack of involvement gets mentioned, saying that student involvement is a top concern, but they make little effort to increase their numbers. The problem is, many students don’t want to be involved with ASUAF, not because they are disinterested, but because the governing body has a bad reputation.

Over the past few years, ASUAF senators have been criticized, by both the university public and fellow senators, for being unprofessional, uncooperative, and non-inclusive. I am not going to spend this entire Op-Ed discussing my personal opinion of past or current ASUAF senate members, but it would be irresponsible for them not to think their actions, as a group and individual members, impact the opinion of the senate as a whole.

ASUAF has shot down and ignored multiple bills addressing their lack of professionalism. In Spring 2015 and Fall 2016, some senators were pushing a bill that would require active senators to go through a judicial check process; this is the same process that all student employees have to go through in order to be hired and represent their departments. The bill was designed to make sure the senators representing the student body were safe, qualified, and responsible.

According to bill supporter, former senator Kayleen Hansen, the bill was voted down because “it would be a barrier for students to get involved,” this was an absurd and weak argument. By voting it down, senators sent a clear message to the student body; they didn’t have to be held to the same standard as other employees, and that anyone, no matter how unqualified could have a seat on senate.

Recently, SB 189-039 (Professional Development through Mandatory Trainings) was proposed that would require senators to take trainings such as Green Dot Bystander training (Violence prevention), QPR training (Suicide prevention), SafeZone training (LGBTQ+), or Racial Equity training. The bill was never brought to the table, and overall was ignored by all but two active senate members.

These instances tell me, as well as the student body, that on multiple occasions senators have voted to not address claims against them, and voted not to be held accountable. The image of senators affects the image of ASAUF as a whole, and has contributed to the lack of student involvement. When you see capable, excited, and diverse senate members excluded and ridiculed, it doesn’t inspire students to become involved.

In their mission statement, ASUAF states that one of their purposes is “to provide services and activities for the students and the University community at large.” The main way the student government does this is by partnering with other departments on campus. Except, they have developed a reputation among the student body, especially those involved in planning boards, for being uncooperative. If ASUAF really wants to offer the student body what they want, they need to strengthen their relationships with UAF departments that are also trying to offer engaging and exciting activities for students.

As a governing board, they will take the blame for the faults of the groups they oversee. I believe part of their responsibility is to be as helpful as possible in order for programming to thrive. ASUAF needs to help campus departments and groups grow their programs, through financial and logistic support, in order to offer the best events and activities that will engage the student body. If ASUAF acted as the supportive governing body their mission statement claims they are, the opinions of students would change.

Public relations can be defined as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. Currently, ASUAF needs to address their public relations problems—the negative opinions against senators, lack of professionalism, and uncooperative nature—or else they will never achieve the student involvement they desire. Furthermore, qualified, bright, and engaged students will continue to avoid the senate. ASUAF has the resources and budget available to make a real difference on campus, but they are currently squandering their opportunities to make a positive change and impact at our university.

Nook on the Street, April 17, 2018

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg was brought before Congress last week to testify about the website’s privacy settings. Many questions were about implementing features already apart of the platform.

What do you think about the Facebook investigation and how it may impact your online privacy rights?

“I don’t post a lot on Facebook, other than just, like, sharing things. So, it didn’t really, like, violate my privacy at all. But I’m sure a lot of other people are upset about it. But personally I’m not; I don’t use Facebook enough to get all that upset about that.

I mean, it’s definitely a big issue just, like, the internet. Like, the privacy rights have always been an issue. So, it’s not really all that big of a surprise to me that Facebook is also getting in on that trend of privacy.”

Natilly Hovda, secondary education & English, sophomore

“In the scheme of things, I chose not to think much about it. When I signed up for Facebook, I kind of came to the realization that I was giving up privacy, and I’m okay with that. Like the thought of Mark Zuckerberg selling the fact I like posts of puppies does not bother me.”

Heidi Shepard, interdisciplinary, senior

“I didn’t even hear about this investigation; I don’t go on Facebook ever.”

Kelly Morgan, medical assistant, junior

“It’s been hard to sort of quantify exactly how it will impact my rights because it’s become obvious how little congress—just from their line of questions—how little they understand about what they’re actually trying to regulate.

It does definitely reaffirm how careful I’ve been on social media in general. Just because the information market is obviously getting bigger, and this proves it. But I guess I’ve always been kind of cautious.”

Bryce Melegari, computer science, senior

#MeToo founder addresses the movement

When Tarana Burke stood in front of her audience to set the record straight, she made it clear that she was an ordinary woman from Bronx, New York.

The topic she discussed on April 6 in Schaible Auditorium surrounded the #MeToo movement. Men who are survivors of sexual violence have reached out to Burke and voiced hesitation in using the hashtag in fear of taking it away from women.

“It isn’t a woman’s movement. It’s your movement. It’s our movement. It is a survivors movement. You are in it if you say you’re in it,” Burke said.

Statistics covering transgender and non-binary people are less likely to be promoted or researched Burke noted

“Women also report more,” Burke continued. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey discussed in a 2011 article published by The New York Times, one in every five women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. There is also an equivalent of one in every six men ( These statistics do not take non-binary or transgender people into account.

She began organizing and protesting at fourteen years old in 1989 where she rallied against President Donald Trump surrounding the Central Park jogger case.

The case involved the 1989 sexual assault of a white female jogger in Manhattan’s Central Park. Five teenagers, four of whom were black and one who was latino, were falsely accused of sexual assault and later proven innocent. President Donald Trump said that they were guilty and called for the death penalty to be reinstated in New York state, an assertion he maintained during the 2016 electoral season. DNA evidence that cleared all five men of their convictions turned up in 2002. Organizing for this specific protest became a catalyst for her identity in human rights activism.

Burke used her time as Schaible Auditorium to explain that she founded the #MeToo movement with one objective in mind: the healing of sexual violence survivors. It began during Burkes time as a camp counselor during a healing circle where teens started to voice personal stories ranging from intimate to violent. The next day Burke was approached by a girl in private, who began to confess to multiple instances of trauma involving her mother’s boyfriend. Burke stated that, although she had her own story, she could not be the comforting space that the child was looking for.

It was after this experience that Burke began working to fill gaps in structures for sexual violence survivors to receive support. In 2003 she co-founded Jendayi Aza, an African-centered rites of passage program for women that eventually evolved into the Just Be Inc. in 2006. The #MeToo movement arose within these programs as Burke continued to observe that sexual violence was a shared experience among a substantial amount of women. Twelve years later, it has received celebrity traction and become a catalyst for millions of conversations surrounding all levels of sexual violence.

During her talk Burke discussed misrepresentations that media outlets have attributed to the movement portraying it as a “witch hunt.” Its purpose, according to Burke, is not to focus on the perpetrators, but to empower survivors of sexual violence with the simple statement “me too.” This is to form solidarity and safe spaces for survivors to share their stories.

The movements attachment to sexual predators such as Harvey Weinstein, distracts the public from its original goal, which Burke said is empowerment through empathy. Burke’s current goal includes refocusing the movement back to this goal and to further assist survivors in beginning the process of healing.

For more information on Tarana Burke and to get involved with the #MeToo movement, readers can visit: or follow @TaranaBurke on twitter. For more information on events being hosted by the Nanook Diversity and Action Center, interested parties can email or visit

Letter to the Editor, ASUAF: Seeking to Preserve Your Trust

Dear members of the student body,

When we took the ASUAF Oath of Office to become senators, we pledged to serve you, the members of the Association, to the best of our ability. We promised to preserve the trust you have placed in us. After some recent incidents within ASUAF, it has become apparent that we, your student leaders, have failed to live up to that oath—that promise.

As the ASUAF Senate Chair, it hurts me to admit this failure. There are senators within the Association who truly work to represent everybody, but here it is: we have failed to serve the student body as a whole, and we have broken trust. ASUAF senators value debate and discussion, but oftentimes a carelessly worded comment will be spoken, or a sincere concern will be thoughtlessly dismissed. In doing so, an individual will be hurt. As student leaders this is not acceptable. We are called to aim higher.

Intolerance is the unwillingness to accept others’ differences and beliefs, but when it comes to ignorance and toxic behaviors that isolate any member of our student body or those who work in student government, ASUAF must be more intolerant. We need intolerance for comments made without a thought of their effect on others’ lives. We need intolerance for cliques and groups that place convenient relationships over an individual’s qualifications when making decisions that affect you, our constituents. While not every senator makes thoughtless comments or displays ignorance, many times we become bystanders and refuse to intervene in those damaging moments. We have become content to be the ones not making those comments, because we have felt positioned outside of those damaging moments.

We know now that we are not innocent outsiders; we are complicit. Often, we have felt that because we didn’t have a necessarily bad relationship with other senators, that was good enough. We didn’t take the time to go out of our way to build great, meaningful, productive relationships with those who felt marginalized in the student government. We didn’t go out of our way to understand how other senators communicated when they didn’t share our communication style. We failed them, and in doing so, we failed you all.

As your Student Government, we must do better. We will do better. Thanks to the initiative of previous Senator Palmer and the contributions of other Senators and Executives, the first step we have taken was to enact a professional development training requirement for all ASUAF government officials. We will continue to improve by listening to your input as well. I encourage you to bring your concerns to us at our weekly Senate meetings or through email ( I will work harder to address those issues through discussions with the Senate and by taking a more active role in maintaining respectful office environment.


Samuel Mitchell, ASUAF Senate Chair