Amid the ongoing fallout from investigations into Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual harassment, the student group Penn Women SPEAK held a discussion on sexual harassment both across the nation and on campus.
The group organized a community dialogue on Oct. 26 at the Women’s Center titled, “Reactions to Sexual Harassment: #MeToo vs. The Task Force." This title references the international social media campaign around the phrase #MeToo that spawned from the Weinstein investigation as well as student reactions towards Penn's implementation of the recommendations made by its Task Force a Safe and Responsible Campus Community.
The task force, which was formed after students protested rape culture at Penn with flyers, has been the subject of controversy this semester. While students largely thought the task force was designed to tackle sexual assault on campus, policies that arose from the task force have also imposed strict restrictions on social events and alcohol consumption.
Director of Dialogue for Penn Women SPEAK and College senior Emily Hason began the discussion with the question, “Who is Harvey Weinstein?” The Hollywood producer has been accused of sexual harassment from as early as the 1970s.
After discussing Weinstein, participants started talking about the popular #MeToo social media campaign that started after actress Alyssa Milano, called for survivors of sexual harassment and assault to post “Me Too” to reveal the magnitude of sexual violence.
“I’m really mad about everything I’m seeing in the media and I just thought that it would be a great space to share what I’m feeling,” said College freshman Zoe Osborne, who participated in the discussion.
Osborne said she attended the event because she was “curious to see what other people would say.”
In the hour-long dialogue, attendees also discussed the implications and messages of how Penn has implemented the task force recommendations.
College freshman Jewel Moore said she does not believe that alcohol necessarily correlates with the occurrence of sexual violence on campus. She said the actions taken by the Task Force to reduce alcohol consumption on campus “takes the blame off of the man or woman committing the crime and pushes it onto an alcoholic substance.”
“I was really happy with the way that people talked," said President of Penn Women SPEAK and College junior Andreina Lamas. "I’m wondering if maybe we should do a part two to think of a productive solution to implement on campus."