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October 3, 2016

Now You See Me/Now You Hear Me: Adelphi’s Campaign to End Gendered Violence

by Dan Rossi '16

Brock Turner is the widely publicized convicted sex offender who, in January 2015, assaulted an unconscious woman. However, the voice of “Emily Doe,” the victim of the crime, was largely left out of the narrative. That is until June 2016, when she issued her statement directly to Turner in an open letter.

Isuri Wijesundara, assistant director of Now You Hear Me, giving her introduction to the performance.

The letter has since gone viral and become a staple in the discussion surrounding campus rape and rape culture. And on September 29, 2016, Adelphi University stood in solidarity with the victim with Now You See Me/Now You Hear Me, a set of linked performances involving nearly 100 members of the Adelphi community. The dramatic event kicked off Adelphi’s End Gendered Violence campaign, which aims to educate about and eradicate gender-based sexual and domestic violence.

“This is only the beginning,” said Margaret Lally ’82, associate professor of theater, who conceived and directed the Now You Hear Me portion. Lally divided the Stanford rape victim’s letter and Vice President Joe Biden’s response to the victim into 99 parts. Lally and assistant director Isuri Wijesundara, a theater major, invited students, faculty and staff, including President Christine M. Riordan, to read the letters aloud in a dramatic staging. The powerful performance drew a full house to Adelphi’s Olmsted Theatre and put faces and names to the words of “Emily Doe,” who still remains anonymous.

“Sometimes it’s hard to engage an entire campus,” explained Devin Thornburg, Ph.D., professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. “This is one of those few instances where we can.” Dr. Thornburg was the curator for the experimental course, The Art of Empowerment, which conceived the original Now You See Me project.

On September 29, students used the lobby of the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center to restage Now You See Me, an interactive performance art piece, originally performed in June 2016, which is designed to bring attention to how hateful comments can lead to assault.

The performances brought Adelphi into the It’s On Us awareness campaign, which Biden and others have championed to help end sexual assault on college campuses. At the conclusion of Now You Hear Me, Lally asked everyone in the audience to go to and take the pledge to step in and help stop sexual assault.

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