I March, I Stand: Growing community exhibit supports survivors

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A new exhibit in the Michigan State University College of Education has been installed in Erickson Hall and IM Circle and focuses on sexual assault survivors, questions, concerns, hurts and hopes through a growing community voice.

The “I March, I Stand: Community Living Art Exhibit” is a response to the tragedy of years of sexual assault from former MSU doctor Larry Nassar and broader issues of institutional and leadership responses.

The exhibit also shares details about the Feb. 6, 2018 march on the Hannah Administration Building by some members of the College of Education faculty, staff and students. Expressing their individual thoughts, these marchers shared statements of why they were marching with teal cards that they adhered to walls, windows and doors of the building. 

“I continue to fight because I believe in our ability to do and be better,” said Terah Venzant Chambers in a message to the college community prior to the march. Chambers, an associate professor, helped co-write and deliver a letter to Interim President John Engler and the MSU Board of Trustees on concerns and processes or areas that need reform. Both the letter and the cards were a form of protest in hope for institutional change.

The exhibit was brought to the college through the dedicated work of several people, including Chris Thelen, a research assistant in the Education Policy Center and a doctoral student in the Education Policy program, and Alyssa Dunn, an assistant professor.

The purpose of the exhibit is to provide a space for people to reflect, and give an avenue where individuals can freely, and anonymously, express what they stand for on campus. In addition to some of the original “I March For…” cards shared during the March on Hannah, the exhibit provides “I Stand For…” teal cards and other writing spaces for participants to reflect, engage and share.

Both installations include handmade teal ribbons individuals can take to show and share their support for survivors.

While the original event was, indeed, a physical march, the exhibit focuses on the multiple ways that one might support the survivors of sexual assault, improve the cultural climate at MSU and advocate for other justice-oriented causes on and off campus. Visitors to the exhibit can share how they literally or metaphorically march for, stand for and support these various causes in their own lives, personally and professionally.

Our campus is hurting right now. For far too long, survivors of sexual violence and their supporters have been silenced by an administration that protects its brand over our community,” Thelen said. “‘I March, I Stand’ is about channeling our pain and anger into an individual and collective act of voice and resistance. I want every survivor on this campus to know that we will continue to fight for justice for them, no matter what it takes.”

Installed on March 13, the Erickson Hall exhibit has more than doubled in size and new thoughts continue to be added daily in both locations.

“I hope the exhibit can stand as a living and ongoing reminder that change needs to happen at the individual and institutional level,” Dunn added. “We wanted to stand in solidarity with survivors on campus and illustrate that the College of Education community was committed to being advocates and activists for change at MSU and beyond.” 

The “I March, I Stand: Living Community Art Exhibits” can be found at Erickson Hall by rooms 133 F and G and IM Circle by room 134 and the first-floor gym. Participants wishing to add their voices may contribute at these locations, or online using #IMarchIStand.

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