Revolutionary Coalition hosts a vigil

Photo Submitted by Survivors Vigil

According to The Signal’s June 23 investigation, “this year, there have been 214 total sexual misconduct violations through the Dean of Students at Georgia State.” 

On Sept. 4, the Revolutionary Coalition of Survivors held a vigil to honor and reflect on those lives and others impacted by sexual and intimate partner violence.

Shanbrae McFarland, a member of the Revolutionary Coalition of Survivors, was the lead organizer of the event. She and others organized the two-hour-long vigil to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault and open up space for students to grieve.

“So many students at Georgia State came forward with their experience of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, current students and alumni,” McFarland said. “With so much trauma happening, I feel like we weren’t given the space to actually stop and process what we were experiencing. With all this pain, [we need to ask] how are we coping with this, how are we grieving?”

The vigil was intentionally held at 25 Park Place.

“There’s so much institutional power inside this building, and a lot of times, students feel so disconnected from the school,” McFarland said. “So, we’re gonna sit in front of this building, [and] we’re gonna let people know that we’re not invisible. We’re human beings, we’re experiencing things, and I’m pretty sure people inside this building are experiencing these things too.”

Though held on the Georgia State campus, students from several different universities attended, including from Georgia Tech, Spelman College and Emory University.

“Predators jump from campus to campus, so we understand that … all of these universities, we share a community,” McFarland said. “We are all being harmed at some point by the same people. So [that] is a plan, across-campus solidarity.”

An altar was built to begin the vigil as members paid their respects. McFarland then began to speak. 

“I basically opened up and explained why we were having [the] vigil, acknowledging the things that were happening inside the university and outside the university,” McFarland said.

Following McFarland, five other people spoke. Candles were lit and there was a moment of silence, reflection and prayer.

Attendees noted that up to six police officers circled throughout the vigil; however, the officers did not bother the coalition.

“They didn’t say anything directly to us, but I did notice that, at one point, the police were constantly circling us and looking out their windows,” MacFarland said. “There was actually an officer that was walking past us… and she was just looking. There was a police presence around the vigil.”

McFarland closed the vigil, reassuring the attendees that the ceremony was only the beginning.

“Grieving is not an ending — it’s a beginning to what we’re gonna do next,” she said. “After we have grieved, after we’ve mourned and we’ve acknowledged these wrongs and all of the trauma, death and these experiences, this is only the beginning to one part of it. This is not the entire book.”