Allies, Self advocacy

SCAR ally Alexandra Brodsky, a founding member of the “Know Your IX” movement, is petitioning the Department of Education to more stringently enforce the protection of students’ civil rights at institutions of higher education. Please take a moment to sign this groundbreaking petition, which will be personally delivered following a rally next week in Washington, D.C.

From the petition:

One in four women will be raped by the time she graduates college. And, often, survivors are betrayed by the school administrations they turn to after their assault. In this past year alone, hundreds of survivors from dozens of schools have bravely shared their experiences. Almost all have been silenced or ignored by their campus administrations, and most have been forced to drop classes, clubs, sports teams, jobs – or abandon their educations entirely – in order to ensure their basic safety.

These practices aren’t only unethical; they’re illegal. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments – the landmark civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and guarantees students the fundamental right to education free from sexual violence and harassment. Yet, over 40 years later, little has changed: according to the National Institute of Justice, nearly two in three schools don’t follow anti-violence law.

Some of these schools have been investigated by the Department of Education (ED), the body charged with enforcing Title IX. But ED’s willingness to accept colleges’ promises to change their ways — rather than levy sanctions and publicly declare offending schools as “noncompliant” — isn’t working. In the face of ED’s leniency, schools aren’t changing their ways, and students continue to suffer sexual violence and institutional abuse.

To create safe, fair campuses across the country, we call on ED to join us in the fight against campus sexual violence by enforcing Title IX law.  The stakes couldn’t be higher. More than four decades after Title IX, it is long past time we be able to enjoy our right to safe education.
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Please take a moment to sign and share the petition with everyone you know. This affects you regardless of your gender. This affects your sisters and brothers who currently attend college, or have not yet started college.  This affects your children. Act now.

The Department of Education must adapt to new proof that colleges are not cooperating.

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Cover art by Patrick Faricry.
Allies, SCAR in the news, Self advocacy

Our OSAC friends at Occidental are the cover story for the latest issue of LA Weekly

In Jessica Ogilvie’s June 27 piece Rape at Occidental College: Official Hush-Up Shatters Trust, Occidental allies Leah Capranica, Carly Mee, Audrey Logan, Danielle Dirks and Caroline Heldman describe a hostile environment in which, for example, Occidental staff belittle and dismiss the goals of the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition.  Ogilvie cites an example of college counsel Carl Botterud accusing victims of vilifying men and announcing that OSAC members could go “fuck” themselves.

The eye-opening article also includes mention of the May press conference held in New York with Gloria Allred and delegates from USC, UC Berkeley, Swarthmore and Dartmouth.  SCAR co-president Tucker Reed is quoted discussing the USC complaint, and the federal civil rights and school policy violations alleged therein.

The article also features quotes from Allred and prominent psychologist and activist David Lisak, who offers a compelling argument for why rape is such an under-reported crime.  The article mentions how Lisak’s work suggests that 90 percent of college males who commit sexual violence are repeat offenders.

Ogilvie and Heldman also address a shocking but persuasive suspicion:

Colleges and universities have a disincentive to be upfront about rape allegations made on their campuses. If the number of such incidents got out, critics suggest, colleges could have a PR nightmare on their hands — one that could be costly come enrollment time. “The first wave of colleges that tell the truth about rates of rape and sexual assault on campus,” Oxy’s Heldman says, “will take a hit with admissions.”

Please check out Ms. Ogilvie’s complete article at LA Weekly’s website.

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Alumni support, Resources, SCAR in the news, Self advocacy

SCAR has been overwhelmed by student, alumni and parent support regarding the administration’s handling of Tucker’s sexual misconduct case.  We’ve received messages all day asking what should be said and who it should be said to.

FORM LETTER for CURRENT STUDENTS:

FORM LETTER for ALUMNI:

FORM LETTER for PARENTS:

NOTE:  PLEASE CC SCAR’S OFFICIAL EMAIL ADDRESS SO WE CAN KEEP A RUNNING TALLY ON THE NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS THE ADMINISTRATION RECEIVES.

studentcoalitionagainstrape at gmail dot com
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Please email your letter to SCAR as well as to the following administrators:

University President C.L. Max Nikias at
president@usc.edu
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson at
mjackson@usc.edu
SJACS director Raquel Torres-Retana at
torresre@saemail.usc.edu
SJACS adjudicator Lindsey Goldstein at
lgoldste@usc.edu

SCAR form letters for concerned Trojans and allies

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Alumni support, Self advocacy

SJACS dismisses Tucker Reed’s sexual misconduct complaint

“This office acknowledges that [the two students’] perspectives on the sexual intercourse differ.”

Regardless of which “perspective” USC prefers to accept as “more likely” based on a “preponderance of the evidence” — it’s not okay to call rape “sexual intercourse.” It’s not okay to tell a rape victim her rapist is a “good person.” It’s not okay to refuse to let an advocate sit in the room with that rape victim, and then badger that victim when she’s alone until she starts crying. It’s not okay to never contact witnesses, and to schedule interviews with certain witnesses two weeks to a month down the line. It’s not okay to take six months to render a decision in something that should have taken 60 days or less. It’s not okay.  Trojans deserve better.

If you are as bothered by the pattern of deliberate indifference exhibited by SJACS commitee members Raquel Torres-Retana and Lindsey Goldstein — University staff in charge of adjudicating reports of sexual misconduct — as we are, we encourage you to email the administration involved in handling these matters:

University President C.L. Max Nikias at
president@usc.edu
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson at
[Mr. Jackson is now on sabbatical, so he will not be answering for the violations he let occur on his watch.]
SJACS director Raquel Torres-Retana at
torresre@saemail.usc.edu
SJACS adjudicator Lindsey Goldstein at
lgoldste@usc.edu

ETA:  In light of recent developments, SCAR is respectfully requesting that our official email address (studentcoalitionagainstrape at Gmail) be CC’ed on all emails sent to the above individuals.  We want to ensure that the administration accurately represents the volume of correspondence received regarding this issue.

And if you have been exposed to the Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards committee — specifically Raquel Torres-Retana — please contact us confidentially using the form below:

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Self advocacy

No Longer Silent

The following letter, addressed to USC, was written by a member of SCAR who will remain nameless. Fearing ramifications, the author has not submitted it to the university, but feels she can no longer remain silent. 

Hello,

I am and always will be part of the Trojan family.  My years at USC were wonderful, for the most part.  Today, I am writing to urge you for change.  In light of the Rehteah Parsons case I feel I cannot be silent anymore.

I was raped at USC.  I was a freshman.  It was October.  I reported this to Student Affairs as well as the police.  I repeated the painful story many times, to many different people.  I sought the resources laid out for me at school.  My rape counselor was very wonderful (though she left just two months later).

But what I am writing about is the outcome of the Student Affairs process.  At least they found him guilty, but his punishment for what he did to me was not enough.  He was told to stay away from me in a formal letter, and he was allowed to finish his semester as a graduate student.

I was lucky.  He never came after me.  But I remember every single day of his last semester I felt sick.  Whenever I saw someone who looked remotely like him, I was terrified.  My stomach dropped.  I walked around our not so big campus in total fear that I would run into my rapist grabbing a coffee at Tro Gro, or in the Leavey library while I was studying.

You failed me because you allowed my rapist to continue his life without interruption, while he destroyed mine.  Granted, the letter did keep him away from me, but if he was willing to violate my consent one time, what was a piece of paper threatening to kick him out going to do?

The LAPD would not take the case because they couldn’t prove it wasn’t consensual.  That hurt really badly.  So the fact that I got some justice from USC was appreciated.  I know the people I spoke with believed me, and knew I had been through trauma.

But my rapist ruined my life.  And his was not ruined.  I am grateful for the rape crisis counseling but I think a more strict attitude toward rape in general needs to be taken at our school.

I love USC with my whole heart, and this incident was not enough to destroy me, but I can tell you it cost me many opportunities and joys that I did not pursue because I was dealing with a sexual assault.  It cost me friends who didn’t believe me because nothing happened to HIM.

Maybe that is not USC’s fault, but I am afraid for the future.  Do I feel safe sending my daughter to a school that did not stand up for me?  That allowed me to live in fear for months?  That acknowledged a man had violated me physically, yet allowed him to stay on their campus with all their other students.  That’s terrifying.

People on campus who commit crimes such as robbery or theft are arrested and banished from campus, potentially expelled.  The man who raped me was allowed to get his degree, to leave this school, to marry his fiance, and get a great job.

I am strong, and I love my Trojan family.  But I wanted you to know about this experience since I have had some years to reflect on it.  I was driven to suicide by my rape eventually, but I survived.  I am lucky.

I sincerely hope that the reputation of the school is not the reason for these lax charges against rapists, but perhaps it is.  USC doesn’t want to look like it enrolls rapists, I understand.  But you do.  You did.  And you let him stay.

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SCAR in the news, Self advocacy

DEAR USC: WE DEMAND A RAPE FREE CAMPUS

Read SCAR’s open letter to the USC administration published by The Interloper, USC’s alternative newspaper. Citing SCAR co-founder and co-director Tucker Reed’s controversial experience with the office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, the letter addresses ways in which the University’s adjudication process is misaligned with the policies in its written Student Conduct Code.

SCAR feels that ultimately, by not expelling students guilty of rape, USC fails to fulfill its promise of providing a safe campus environment.

Link