RADICAL, a club spear-headed by seniors Chloe Gonzalez and Desire Johnson, has created a safe space for survivors of sexual assault and their allies.
RADICAL, which stands for Rooted Ancestral Determined Indigenous Cooperative Attaining Liberation, wanted to create a space that provides a support system for students seeking solidarity and affinity. Gonzalez and Johnson found inspiration to start this club from their struggle to find a connection to campus life. RADICAL began in the Fall of 2012.
“This group began as a three-in-the-morning study group,” Johnson said. “We were unhappy with experiences and spaces that are supposed to create solidarity and affinity, but they were ignoring our personal lives outside of school.”
Last semester, the members of RADICAL wrote a letter to Dean Kathleen Rice addressing the many social justice issues that students face on an everyday basis. This includes housing issues, resources for food, or conflicts encountered at the M Center. Their goal was to simply create awareness of these issues and allow the administration to find ways to recognize them and help students find better resources.
RADICAL focuses on community outreach. Gonzalez and Johnson wanted to close the gap between Mills and the East Bay community by bringing Mills off-campus and vice versa. They collaborate with other groups off campus like USSAIV (Unrestricted Survivors of Sexual Assault and Intimate Violence) and MISSSEY (Motivating Inspiring Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth).
“We wanted to come together and provide a support system,” Johnson said. “But also just a real group that addresses social justice on a personal, interpersonal and a systemic matter.”
Their first successful event was co-hosted with USSAIV. They gathered together to share their personal experiences as survivors of sexual assault. They also hosted a larger event, Take Back the Night, where survivors were given the opportunity to share their stories of sexual abuse. Take Back the Night was in collaboration with members of the Mills faculty and staff, MISSSEY, and local artists. According to Gonzalez, Take Back the Night embodied a lot of what RADICAL is about.
“It was just kind of a magical moment. I don’t really know how else to explain it,” Gonzalez said. “It was overwhelmingly powerful.”