Chanel Miller. If you don’t know that name by now, you should.
Previously known as Emily Doe, Miller was the unconscious woman sexually assaulted by Brock Turner in 2016. After sparking national attention with her powerful essay condemning Turner’s assault, she is telling her story in her memoir, “Know My Name.” The release of this memoir is not only highlighting Miller’s strength, but reaching out a hand to sexual assault victims. It is a reassurance that they are not alone.
For a while, we only knew about Turner, his fraternity-boy privilege and maybe even his swim scores. We knew of his elite attendance at Stanford University, his success as a swimmer and his privilege that allowed him to walk free after a mere six months. Turner may have gotten off too easily, but Miller isn’t finished. Miller is taking control of the narrative. Finally, she is telling her story and describing how she heals. She is opening a door into the aftermath of assault that is rarely seen. By taking control of her identity, Miller becomes an example to sexual assault victims around the world that you are not forever broken and that it is possible to heal and reclaim your voice. It shouldn’t be perceived as just a powerful encouragement. Take it as a call to action.
Turner was not held fully accountable in this case. While it is infuriating, it is also unsurprising. Just looking at the UF campus, Fraternity Row is one of the few locations devoid of blue safety lights. The most widespread initiative to protect students’ safety is missing in a place where there can sometimes be the highest risk.
We’ve all heard the stories of girls and boys who have been drugged at fraternity parties and tailgates. We’ve all heard the cries of girls taken advantage of and hands reaching too far. Fraternities are not inherently to blame, and I do believe those who are committing sexual assault are the frightening exceptions. But the sheer reality is that we all know it happens. The Chanel Miller case may not be a local example, but it should be recognized at a national level. Blue safety lights should at least be implemented on Fraternity Row to reassure students. To even give them a small semblance of increased safety is more than enough of a reason.
On Tuesday, September 17, a protest calling for blue lights on Fraternity Row will be held. When you attend, remember Chanel Miller. Remember her strength and remember her voice. Remember your friends who’ve been put in danger at parties. The sheer reality is that we all know someone.
Chanel Miller wants you to know her name. She wants you to know her story. She wants you to know that your body is yours forever. But most importantly, as she said in her essay, “To girls everywhere, I am with you.”
Lauren Rousseau is a UF journalism sophomore.