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A Cappella Group from Hobart and William Smith Sings Support for Sex Abuse Survivors


A video cover of Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens to You" created by an a cappella group at Hobart and William Smith College has over two hundred thousand views.

"Til It Happens to You" is a song written by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren for a documentary called The Hunting Ground about sexual assault on campus.

The song and the film spurred a contest, open to collegiate a cappella groups, to do their own versions of "Til It Happens to You" and submit videos.

Erica Mclaughlin is a senior member of Three Miles Lost, the group from Hobart and William Smith.

"We've been really overwhelmed, in a very positive way, by all the feedback that we've been getting from everybody and how much it's touched so many people well beyond the HWS community."

Mclaughlin says their a cappella group doesn't have an official leader, and they all made a collective decision to enter this competition as a group. They also wanted to sing it as a group.

"So rather than have it as individuals or a soloist come forward and sing it we really wanted to make it a collective voice."

Jessica Bishop is also a senior. She says they wanted the video to have that same feeling of collective-ness.

"One of the themes that we wanted to get across in the video was standing in solidarity with anybody that has been affected or that will be affected in the future, no matter who that is."

The video shows the 12 young women that make up Three Miles Lost singing in various places across the campus, holding hands and standing among other students. There are also various campus groups shown holding signs of support for survivors, from HWS Pride to the Deans offices.

"Since everybody in our group has been touched by this issue either directly or indirectly, we decided that we really wanted to express standing in solidarity and trying to start a movement and a conversation."

Hobart and William Smith has had a complicated history with sexual assault.

The college was one of 55 investigated by the US Department of Education for how they handled sexual abuse complaints. It was also the focus of a New York Times article about how the administration handled an alleged rape on their campus.

That was almost two years ago. Mclaughlin says, that didn't factor into their decision to make the video.

"It was more for ourselves and our community now. We've been taking a lot of steps to move forward and change that dialogue, to how can we make efforts to change this and work toward improvement and ending these types of issues."

Mclaughlin says, since the video was released, people have reached out to them to share their own survival stories.

The competition is called a "contest to amplify the voices of those fighting the crisis of sexual assault" and a winner will be chosen in April.