St. Mike's Student Activists Score DC Meeting With State Department Staffer | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

St. Mike's Student Activists Score DC Meeting With State Department Staffer 

Editor's note:  Seven Days contributing writer Kevin J. Kelley, who teaches in the St. Michael's journalism department, wrote this post.

St. Michael's College activists campaigning against rape in Congo will be making their case in Washington next month at a scheduled meeting with a top State Department official.

Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, agreed this week to meet on December 15 with a delegation from the international Dear Hillary Campaign for Congo. The movement originated on the Colchester campus.

A group of St. Mike's students had organized a postcard drive urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to do more to end an epidemic of rape in eastern Congo (pictured here: organizers Leah Ziegler and Kate Bailey, photo credit Jordan Silverman.) Some 15,000 women have been sexually assaulted there in the past year, the United Nations estimates. The UN refers to eastern Congo as “the rape capital of the world.”

Members of the 56 Dear Hillary chapters in the United States and four other countries sent 16,000 postcards to Clinton on her birthday, October 26. “As a gift to yourself and the women of the world,” the cards read, “we ask that you make peace in eastern Congo a foreign policy priority.”

St. Mike's organizers followed up the mass mailing by calling the State Department to request a meeting with Clinton. They were directed instead to Verveer, who offered to talk with representatives of the campaign for at least an hour.

Laurie Gagne, director of the college's Edmundite Center for Peace & Justice, says she's disappointed that Clinton herself did not agree to meet the students. They were told that the secretary of state would be unavailable through Christmas, although Gagne hopes that Clinton may “pop in” during the meeting with Verveer.

The State Department's willingness to schedule a session with an ambassador-at-large does show that “our commitment to this cause has brought results,” Gagne says. Accompanying her to Washington will be seven St. Mike's students and two members of the Burlington-area Congolese community.

They plan to press Verveer on the hundreds of millions of dollars a year in military aid that the Obama administration supplies to Rwanda and Uganda. The UN has accused forces from those two neighboring countries of carrying out war crimes in eastern Congo, including mass rapes.

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact
Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: ,

More By This Author

About The Author

7D Staff


Showing 1-1 of 1


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2021 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Advertising Policy  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation