Together with the folks at It’s On Us, a White House initiative to end sexual assault on campus by promoting bystander intervention, we began to think about the ways in which our campus culture around sexual assault keeps so many people from being able to live in fullness, in safety, without fear. At least 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. What’s needed is not one savior, but a massive cultural shift–one in which bystanders become upstanders, in which survivors are believed, in which consent is considered non-negotiable, in which individuals and communities take seriously the mandate to prevent sexual assault.
Every student has the right to live free of violence. Jewish history and the teachings of our tradition call on us to bear witness, to speak up, and to stand up on behalf of all those who are vulnerable. Our Torah instructs us not to stand by while our neighbors are harmed. And our people’s experiences of suffering call on us to lead toward a society in which all of us use our power responsibly.
We all need to become the people who free one another–and as such, a new question from the seder was born: “How do we free one another?”. The seder is a time of question-asking and reflection, of moving from a situation of bondage to freedom. It offers a powerful opportunity to sit back and think more deeply about how we can be the kinds of people–and the kinds of communities–that make our campuses places of safety and freedom for everyone.
Join thousands of Hillel staff and students on campuses all over the country in a critical conversation about sexual assault and freedom during your Passover Seder. It’s on us to end sexual assault.