The Daily Illini

Editorial | Sexual assault survivors are our ‘person of the year’

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Editorial | Sexual assault survivors are our ‘person of the year’

Billy Galant

Billy Galant

Billy Galant

Time magazine’s annual awarding of the “Person of the Year,” or the person or group of people who had the most influence on the news throughout the year, has recently sparked a bit of debate. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to proclaim that he would not accept Time’s terms for being named “person of the year,” and Time retorted that Trump had the process all wrong.

Since then, Time has released a poll filled with numerous groups and names of people who have the potential to be named. The polling list is filled with a wide range of individuals, from Taylor Swift to Pope Francis.

While Time’s “Person of the Year” is still pending, The Daily Illini Editorial Board has reached a verdict. Our “person of the year” is every single survivor of sexual assault.

It’s clear to see why we made this choice. The #MeToo campaign has rippled across social media for months, raising more awareness than arguably ever before about the pervasiveness of sexual assault in our society. Survivors are finally feeling the support of mainstream society that had once overlooked their assaults. No one else this year, certainly not Trump (He was already the 2016 winner, after all), deserves this title more than survivors of sexual assault.

It is campaigns such as #MeToo that instigate crucial and necessary steps toward a society where sexual assault is identified as a problem and not just a part of everyday life that we must accept and move past. These survivors are the key to creating an environment that is safer for everyone to live and thrive in — the very essence of a healthy society.

Included in our nomination is every survivor who is not encapsulated fully by the #MeToo campaign, including those who have not come forward and those who do not feel that the #MeToo campaign represents them. This includes survivors who are minorities, who are not always fully supported or believed by a society that marginalizes them further.

While The Daily Illini Editorial Board “Person of the Year” title may not hold quite as much weight as Time’s, we felt it necessary to raise our voices about who we believe is making the most change in this country. While Time’s nomination goes toward the group or person who was most represented in the news, our nomination goes toward the group who has had the largest hand in making this country, and world, a better place.

No, not politicians who fill our heads with empty promises. No, not celebrities who have achieved some artistic feat. No, not a dictator (yes, Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin both made Time’s poll list, and Putin even won once). We choose to nominate the survivors who are closer than you might think: your family members, coworkers, friends, professors and even some of the staff writers who have contributed to this editorial.

Support is crucial. It makes survivors brave enough to continue pushing forward day by day. This year has seen political turmoil, destruction, tears and heartbreak. But survivors of sexual assault have been able to provide hope to those who thought all hope was lost, and that is more rewarding of any title we could choose to bestow on them. All we can wish now is that our support offers any of this hope back to these survivors.

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