#MeToo founder vows to work with FAMU students

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke visited FAMU on April 19.
Photo courtesy famu.edu

Last Friday, the founder of the national #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, and guests hosted a program on FAMU’s campus that did not end well.

They were interrupted by a FAMU employee near the conclusion of their two-hour event in the Grand Ballroom, and hurt feelings still linger a week later.

FAMU was the last stop on Burke’s #MeToo HBCU Tour and Burke hosted a program to discuss the “rape culture on college campuses” and solutions to combat sexual violence.

Near the end of the program, Burke pulled out a poster board agreement for a sexual assault task force she wanted to implement on campus.

But before the agreement could be read, Burke was interrupted by an OSA employee, William Clemm, as he stood in the audience. He shouted to Burke across the ballroom that she could not read the agreement due to legal reasons with the university.

Burke and her team quickly exited, after a brief debate with Clemm.

The FAMUAN published an article on Monday describing what took place at the event, and it was widely circulated on social media.

The university subsequently released a 700-word press release on Wednesday to address the situation.

“The University does not condone or tolerate this type of conduct,” said William E. Hudson, Jr., vice president of Student Affairs. “We are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and safe campus environment in which our students’ ability to learn, excel and reach their full potential is not limited by the threat or occurrence of sexual violence and sexual harassment,” Hudson said in the release.

The press release also described the different ways the university handles rape and sexual assault cases with programs like FAMU’s Center for Interpersonal Violence, Intervention and Prevention and the assistance of a $300,000 federal grant funded by the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women.

The FAMUAN reached out to Burke’s representative for her thoughts after the visit.

“We are saddened and disappointed by the response we received from Florida A&M University administration on the final stop of our ‘me too’ HBCU Tour on Friday, April 19. However, we are determined to carry this work forward. This incident will not prevent us from working with FAMU students who are organizing themselves and committed to dismantling rape culture on campus,” the representative wrote in a statement.   

The details of the agreement have not been revealed by the university or Burke.

Some students believe that FAMU still has work to do when it comes to handling sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.

Nallah Brown, a senior journalism major, commented on the situation on Twitter.

“FAMU is in a pivotal position to literally create change and shift the culture and climate of sexual assault on campus,” Brown wrote.

Hudson said in the release that the university is always seeking different solutions to end sexual assault on campus and remains open to working with Burke in the future.