Discipleship Students Bring Solidarity Wall to U of O

August 19, 2016 | Gary McLain

It's called the Solidarity Wall. "The point of the project is to allow students to openly express healing words of encouragement to victims of sexual assault and outrage against the perpetrators," says Ty Gibson, co-director of Light Bearers and lead pastor of Storyline Church in Eugene.

Light Bearers runs a discipleship school called ARISE, led by a group of educators who are passionate about Jesus and want to equip others for everyday ministry. ARISE interns constructed a large wall, covered it with a surface upon which messages could be written, and placed it in a prominent spot on the University of Oregon (U of O) campus in Eugene.

A love letter, sealed with a solidarity seal, was distributed on campus for the week of April 18–22. As the intern shared the letter, they invited students to visit the Solidarity Wall and write their messages to survivors of sexual assault. Testimonies and spoken-word poetry were also performed at the wall during the week.

One in five females on university campuses across the U.S. is sexually assaulted. In 85 percent of these incidents, no repercussions are experienced by the violators — not to mention the fact that many young men are sexually violated as well.

The Solidarity Wall project is getting massive attention, not only on the U of O campus but also at Princeton University and a university in the United Kingdom. Some girls responded by bursting into tears and telling their stories about being violated. Young men were encouraged to be more willing to intervene in situations where a young woman might be threatened.

“The reasoning behind calling it ‘The Solidarity Wall’ is that language is broad enough that other walls can be installed on other campuses to promote awareness on a number of different social justice issues," explains Gibson. "This creates a medium in which anyone can have a voice on various crucial issues. Violated individuals can encounter beautiful encouragement from the community, and potential violators can come away with a sense of conviction that they are being watched and that their actions are repulsive."