What an important event this is. Thanks to everyone for their strong and affirming statements, especially our student leaders. And a special thank you to our student survivors who spoke with such courage.
Bucknell students accomplish great things together every day. We all know that simply by looking around us, and by being part of this community. We know how often we are proud to belong to a community that our students make and remake everyday. And we know that our pride and confidence do not stop when our students graduate. Bucknell alumni make a genuine difference in the world. In a recent year, for instance, our graduates have collaborated to help eradicate suffering thousands of miles away, in places like Uganda and Sierra Leone.
But as we all know, suffering, unfortunately, comes in many forms. And perhaps the worst kind of suffering is the kind that we know we can prevent. Take Back the Night and the No More campaign are a statement that we are joined in stopping a specific, quite preventable kind of suffering that afflicts, on this campus, our friends, our classmates, our roommates, our teammates. That suffering has a name: sexual assault.
Sexual assault is always and totally wrong – it is always a despicable violation of the victim – but when it occurs at a place of learning, it is also a profound violation of the community we aspire to be. Bucknell can and must be a community where trust, respect and care for one another – not disrespect, not ignorance, not suffering – define who we are.
Take Back the Night says that each of us will help end the culture of silence, the culture of shame, and the culture of looking aside, that surrounds sexual assault. We recall what philosopher Edmund Burke said: “The only thing needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” And we affirm what the novelist Margaret Atwood said: “A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used. Powerlessness and silence go together.”
We know that a raised voice, an outstretched hand, a listening ear, a willing act of support are the gestures of caring we can - each and everyone of us - give to victims, to those who might be victims and, here tonight, to one another as we stand for what we love and treasure about each other and what we love and treasure about Bucknell. I take inspiration from all of you tonight that our unified message is clear to those who would make our beautiful values ugly. I take inspiration from your conviction to say: no more.
We know there is never a rationale for sexual assault. We know nothing justifies or excuses it – not alcohol, not drugs, not someone’s choice in clothing, not how they dance at a party. "No More" means we join together as a community to say any behavior - any behavior - that violates another person’s sense of safety and trust on our campus is always and totally unacceptable. We stand together to say that no one stands alone. We know that strong individuals standing up for the values that are the deepest expression of our humanity make Bucknell a better place, and make us better people.
I have said it before, and I will it say again: we create this University, and we create ourselves, one decision at a time. Thank you for being here to state as one that we are determined to make decisions that are good not just for ourselves but also for others. Thank you for saying No More. Thank you for reclaiming the night.