From walking students home from the bars to organizing rallies, The Collective brings together Miami students and Oxford community organizations to combat sexual assault and white supremacy.
“It is like a movement or an initiative that is made up of a bunch of different people, activists who are interested in doing what they can to make this campus a better place by attacking major issues on campus that affect a wide variety of students,” said senior Taylor Edwards, an organizer in The Collective.
Senior Jc Statt, another organizer, said it doesn’t seek recognition from the university as a student organization because it exists to serve and bring together other organizations already working on issues in the community. The Collective also doesn’t want the university to hold any power over it, especially when the initiative is trying to challenge university policies and culture.
With about ten organizers, the movement started gaining momentum last semester with a rally against white supremacy on Aug. 30 and a rally against sexual assault on Oct. 25. But, Statt said, the movement is built off the previous work of students and activists who participate in their respective organizations.
“Those folks who involve themselves and who identify as collective organizers have been around,” Statt said. “They were here in the spring, and some weren’t. Some are freshman; they came in and just dove right in, and that’s amazing. But, it’s obviously all built upon groundwork laid by previous years of students.” Junior Hannah Abigail Clarke, president of Spectrum, spoke at both rallies held by The Collective. Through the rallies, Clarke formed a relationship with Black Women Empowered, an organization that Spectrum has never worked with before, and began planning an event. Clarke said she hopes to continue that relationship for years to come.
Each weekend, The Collective has a group of students wait at the Phi Delt gates on weekend nights that offer to walk students home.
The group recently partnered with Students for Survivors from the University of Cincinnati (UC) on a social media campaign that highlighted sexual assault stories and statistics.
This semester, the group plans to support organizations that are creating events and raising awareness for Black History Month, Edwards said.
Statt said the group also plans to work with a coalition of Cincinnati-based organizations to protest white nationalist Richard Spencer’s scheduled lecture on UC’s campus in March.
Sophomore Clara Guerra, a Collective organizer and the political action chair of the Black Student Action Association, said she and Edwards are creating a list of demands in a letter to the Miami University containing actions the university can take to fight sexual assault.
Miami University is the subject of three active federal Title IX investigations into the school’s sexual assault policies and procedures, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX Tracker.
“We’re going to provide some things that actually would solve the problem that the university could do that would actually help students,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the group has a Facebook page that shares events sponsored by The Collective and other organizations such as Spectrum and Women Helping Women. The Facebook page also answers any questions students have about the issues The Collective addresses.
The group faces several challenges, such as lack of enthusiasm, while continuing the movement, Guerra said.
“It’s hard to organize and create a movement when people are so apathetic,” Guerra said. “There is a lot of burnout.”
Edwards added that members have been verbally harassed while offering to walk students home or participating in demonstrations.
Edwards said it’s important students fight for what is right in the current political moment, as conversation surrounding sexual assault surfaces in the news and white supremacists become more emboldened.
“People are afraid right now,” Edwards said. “It’s a time where there is really this huge struggle that’s happening, and, for us, it’s very important to say what side we’re on and to participate in the fight.”
Going forward, Clarke hopes The Collective outlines clearer goals and specific steps to achieve them. She hopes it will continue to gain momentum even as some leaders in the movement graduate.
“We’re gonna bring some change to this campus,” Guerra said. “You should expect more protests. You should expect more outrage. You should expect more letters, more signs, more involvement from us, and we’re not just a one-time thing that is going to go away.”
Interested students may message The Collective on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheCollectiveMiamiU.