Awareness continues to grow about the scourge of sexual violence on college campuses. More assault survivors are supporting each other to break the silence and challenge their universities’ mishandling of complaints. Reports of rape given to institutions have risen dramatically — by 34 percent between 2010-2012.

A new White House task force to prevent school assaults appears to have put the issue squarely on the front burner. And last week, a bipartisan group in Congress urged the Department of Education to meet a key demand by one of the growing numbers of student groups — creating a public database that lists the government’s enforcement actions and agreements reached with universities.

Media attention to what some call an epidemic — hidden at times by low reporting rates, and contorted by stubborn norms about topics such as what informed consent means — is helping to bring change.

Clarity rather than subterfuge. Accountability rather than denial. Transparency. Prevention.

Yet for some student activists and other advocates, it’s nowhere near spring in any sense.

Read more in The Huffington Post, published Feb. 6.BreakingSilence3Campus

Author’s Note: This is one of an ongoing series of articles and essays connected to and previewing my forthcoming narrative nonfiction book, The Ten-Year Quilt. One section of the work chronicles the legacy of Jeanne Clery and activists dedicated to ending sexual violence on college campuses.



Mandela’s Legacy: Teaching Ubuntu

I am a former teacher turned full-time writer and one day hope to return to the classroom. If I could inspire high school students to discover and apply one huge and empowering achievement of our time, I would point them to South Africa.

To Nelson Mandela, revered as Madiba by his countrymen, and to something much bigger than him.

I would tell them about the resurgence of Ubuntu to help that country heal after the dismantling of apartheid.

Ubuntu is an age-old cultural world view shared by many African societies which highlights the essential unity of humanity. This view holds that all members of a community are linked together, be they rich or poor, victims or perpetrators, and it holds profound implications for peacemaking and conflict resolution. Ubuntu emphasizes empathy, cooperation, and sharing over retribution and competition, and inclusivity over exclusivity.

Read more in The Huffington Post, published December, 2013.