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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Dignity and decency

The ending of one of the pieces from the 2022 TERP Showcase
Red Engel
The ending of one of the pieces from the 2022 TERP Showcase

In 2021, as a first-year at Knox, I was more excited to participate in Terpsichore Dance Collective (Terp) than anything else I planned to do. I’ve been dancing since I was four years old, dance has always been in my life. Always been my stress reliever.

Terp particularly has always been, and will always be, a safe space for me here.

That safe space was destroyed the moment I heard of the harassment of dancers in this past fall term show. If you didn’t attend, or didn’t hear about it, the gist is that a group of unnamed male students attending the show shouted multiple sexual comments at the dancers.

I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I (attempted) to restart the club Students Against Sexism in Society. Anyone could tell you I am for women.

Gather from this my feelings on the harassment of Terp dancers.

An aside: a week or so ago, I sat in my living room and had a long conversation with a friend of mine about sex, self worth, societal pressures, and the damage of gossip.

I left feeling seen, and knowing that we had discovered something we had in common: the experience of knowing rumors are circulating about you and your sex life.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of this experience, let me lay it out for you. Knowing people are discussing your hookups behind your back flays you open. That private moment, of vulnerability and openness and connection with another human being, is suddenly public knowledge and that knowledge can literally never be revoked.

It is humiliating. The experience stays, lingers in the back of your mind, like something you’ve forgotten to remember, like a word stuck on the tip of your tongue.

The question I come back to each and every time I, or my friends, or anyone I know experiences harassment or judgment because of sex: why do you care? Who taught you that people’s sex lives are things to be played with at the dinner table, passed around and discussed like a poem in English class?

What gives you the right to shout gross sexual comments at a group of dancers? Nothing, is the answer. Nothing gave you the right. It is so utterly wrong, in fact.

The experience of sexual harassment is so common among the women I know that each and every one of us has a story. For every one of us, there has been a man who catcalled or groped or messaged or sent a picture, always unsolicited.

Every single woman I know.

And every time it happens, I wonder when it will stop. I wonder about third wave feminism and #MeToo and Title IX. I wonder if any of it has made a difference.

Sometimes I think nothing has changed, it’s just covered up better now.

I speak of women specifically in this article, but we know it happens to men too. That friend and the living room conversation I mentioned earlier? He is a man.

At the end of the day, we all deserve dignity, respect, and common decency.

Shouting sexual comments towards Terp dancers does not qualify as respectful or decent.

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About the Contributors
Jenna Schweikert
Jenna Schweikert, EIC-In-Training
Jenna Schweikert '25 (she/they) is a journalism and political science double major. They are the Editor-In-Chief In-Training for The Knox Student. In her free time, she enjoys dancing in her room to Taylor Swift records. You can most often find Jenna writing in the Gizmo or attending Terp rehearsals in CFA. Awards: Illinois College Press Association 2024
  • 3rd Place Column
Theodore Hazen Kimbale Memorial Award in Journalism - Feature article, 2022
Red Engel
Red Engel, Graphics Editor
Sasse/Red Engel '25, (he/they) is an Art History major with a Chemistry minor. They joined TKS in 2021 as the graphics editor and have continued in that position since. He is in charge of social media and the creation of the magazines. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and their current goal in life is to work one day at DC Comics, as a comic book artist.

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    Hannah FFeb 1, 2024 at 8:06 pm

    Love this piece. I often found Terp to be a liberating space – the other dancers understand the use of sexuality, the fun of exploration, the art of the body. It is truly upsetting others could not respect this space and intrude on its safety. Thank you for speaking on this.