On March 22, ETSU Diversity Educators will be hosting a coffeehouse community discussion regarding the MeToo movement.

“Diversity Educators has been hosting coffee house discussions since the semester of fall 2016,” said Diversity Educator Jacqueline Duncan. “During that year, many conversations came up regarding race, sexuality, transgender issues, political unrest, sexual assault and other social justice issues. In partnership with the Multicultural Center, we Diversity Educators wanted to offer an outlet and opportunity for campus members to share their experiences and perspectives on what was going on in the world.”

The #MeToo movement aims to bring to light the often-overlooked issues of sexual abuse and assault. The movement focuses especially on sexual crimes perpetrated by men in workplace settings. #MeToo coincides with the wave of reports of sexual assaults and abuse following the substantial 2017 allegations against former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“It’s important to discuss the #MeToo movement as the community of survivors and allies begin to shed light on the prevalence of the sexual misconduct, sexual assault and sexual harassment that occurs in our national and global community,” Duncan said. “It is vital for survivors to have an opportunity to speak out. It is time to the break the silence regarding this topic.”

The MeToo movement is far more than an ordinary awareness campaign. It has succeeded in removing dozens of men from powerful positions across the world.

The MeToo movement has greatly increased cultural awareness of the underlying issues surrounding sexual crimes, exposing the exploitation of power dynamics in the workplace. Though there are still stigmas surrounding victims of sexual crimes, the #MeToo movement has proven to be an important step in legitimizing their plight in the public’s eye.

“Lately, I have noticed people being engaged in more conversations regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Duncan said.

In addition to raising awareness, the #MeToo movement aims for various political outcomes. Many of the movement’s supporters use it as a platform to advocate for legislation intended to combat sexual misconduct. Said legislation includes bills that would make it more difficult for companies to cover up crimes and give victims access to better means of reporting their abusers.

Despite the positive underlying goals of MeToo, the movement has been the subject of a wide range of criticisms. Concerns regarding due process, overcorrection and the cultural demonization of men have proven to be the most prominent. Others criticize the movement for ignoring the plights of persons of color and focusing too much on the crimes of individual men rather than the underlying problems they represent. The criticisms levied against #MeToo are many and varied.

However one feels, #MeToo is a topic worthy of communal discussion and debate. Interested persons are welcome to attend the coffeehouse discussion free of charge. The discussion will take place in the Multicultural Center on the second floor of the D.P. Culp Center. The discussion will last from 1-2 p.m. Its tone will be informal, held over snacks and coffee.

“When we allow the campus community a space to converse, we allow a space for learning, understanding and mutual respect,” Duncan said. “During this discussion, I hope that each individual will be heard and enlightened by others’ perspectives.”