I am very pleased to welcome you all to this afternoon’s event. Allow me to thank Temple’s Title IX Coordinator, Andrea Seiss, for making the long trip from Philadelphia, along with Cameron Etezady from our University Counsel’s office. Hikari Hida, who I'm sure you all know, will join Andrea as a moderator this afternoon. And of course I want especially to thank Shiori Ito for joining us from London.
Many thanks also to Research Director Mariko Nagai and her team, including Emily Proulx and May Watabe. Along with Aki Imai and Eriko Kawaguchi they have done a great deal of work developing today's program. The student workers are awesome, as ever.
As is normal in these events, I ask that you silence your telephones and that you not record or photograph the proceedings.
Before we begin, allow me to make three brief points. I do so as a parent, as a political scientist, and as a college administrator.
A year ago, my daughter Anna arrived at TUJ as a study abroad student. Shortly afterwards, she remarked on how little practical information was available for those sexually assaulted on or off campus. She was right. Since then, and separately, the students involved with UPRIZINE have done a great deal to push for change on this front. I am impressed by the maturity of their work, and especially the way they've combined theory, creativity, and practical self-help. Partly as a result, TUJ’s campus services are now more transparent. Our Student Services staff and legal counsel are providing the help students need.
Far too many of us struggle with the reality of these crimes. We do so personally, as families, as communities, and of course as institutions. We are learning as we are coping. As to preventing sexual assault, we are more unsure about what can be done. We sense that we are inadequate to the task. Often we find it hard even to discuss what’s happening. And that's what today is all about, I hope.
This issue is both global and local—it is general and specific. But as a scholar of politics I want to say that our discussion is not about nation or culture. For me at least, it is not about Japan in any abstract or profound way. It is, instead, about national law and practice, and about what happens here and now, in Japan as in India, or in the United States, or in Britain. It is about a shared future being made by people (Japanese and otherwise) in this room, just as elsewhere. It is, quite simply, about communities striving for safety.
Second, whatever our particular national or institutional venue, history shows that the struggle against power and its abuse must be both individual and collective. Individual action requires tremendous courage and moral fortitude, often in the face of instant and anonymous attack. Collective action requires sustained commitment, patience and mutual support. Both the individual and the collective are on display here today. So I am optimistic.
In the end, even our most conservative national institutions of law and policing will change, because they are human as are we all. And because we will keep reminding them of that fact.
I’d like to hand over now to Andrea Seiss, Title IX and ADA Coordinator at Temple University.
As part of our mission at UPRIZINE, we have aimed to create conversation around sexual violence in the community that we are all a part of. Sexual assault is a difficult topic to discuss, as it is painful and reflects the worst parts of our societies and of people. It is particularly difficult for survivors and the ones closest to survivors to talk about, because it can be extremely triggering and retraumatizing. Some of us have been comfortable enough to speak out about our experiences publicly with our names attached, some have only done so anonymously, and some never will. And all are okay, as everybody has different needs and ways of healing. But regardless of the choice we have made, it is important to recognize that no matter how public we may or may not have been with our stories, it is not appropriate for people to ask questions which may be too personal and make the survivor feel uncomfortable. It is important to respect the privacy of survivors and to do everything that we can to never overstep these boundaries. For this reason, when Shiori Ito confirmed that she would be speaking at TUJ but only in the form of a more intimate conversation with students, we made the decision not to ask her for an interview to publish here. We wanted to respect her wishes to keep this session more private. Instead, we hope you enjoyed reading the moving introduction our Associate Dean, Dr.Howard, made to Shiori’s talk.
We will miss you.
UPDATE: Here is the TUJ COMM blog link where TUJ student, Keili Hamilton-Maureira did a write-up of the event.