Rally Against Rape Culture demands radical reform to UC Davis’ policy on sex crimes

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE

Students present list of demand to administrators

In response to a recent article published by The California Aggie, UC Davis students gathered to demand change at the Rally Against Rape Culture on June 2 at the Memorial Union. The article brought attention to UC policies that appear to protect and dismiss misogynistic culture and silence survivors of sex crimes.

At the rally, student survivors shared their stories and testimonies in the hopes that their experiences could help destigmatize the reporting of sex crimes and contribute to the creation of a campus intolerant of such crimes. Representatives from the Center for Advocacy Resources and Education were present at the event to offer support for anyone in attendance.

The article also explored the experiences of survivors of sexual assault and the inability of the survivors to link their perpetrators to any organization they belong to, such as sports teams or fraternities. With multiple reports filed against the fraternity Theta Xi, the Panhellenic community banded together to carry out their own form of unofficial justice and chose to disaffiliate with the fraternity.

Much of the article surrounded the experience of Kelsey Pitman, fourth-year bio-psychology major, when reporting her rape case to UC Davis. Pitman’s case was extended by the school five times and turned into a 199-day process almost four times longer than the 50-day period these cases are supposed to last. Pitman has remained a steadfast voice for survivors who some feel have been systematically silenced by UC Davis’ policies.

With her time at UC Davis coming to a close, Pitman encouraged attendants at the event to join the fight to end sexual assault and violence on college campuses.

“Stay angry and stay passionate about this injustice until our university makes a change,” Pitman said.

Sophie McGuinness, a third-year economics major and the co-author of the article, berated UC Davis in a speech at the rally for allowing Greek life to function without supplying the students involved adequate training, education and information to prevent sexual violence from occurring.

“The university allows Greek life to exist, but they simply do not have the funds to facilitate it correctly,” McGuinness said. “There are two people tasked with training all of Greek life. That is literally not enough to make anyone understand the true causes of sexual violence or even what consent truly is.”

Students were also outraged that an alleged rapist found guilty by the university was only suspended a few months more than the minimum sentencing requirement.

“A two-year suspension is not [a] remotely adequate consequence for a sex crime that will affect the survivor for the rest of their life,” the Rally Against Rape Culture’s Facebook page states.

According to the Facebook page, students are now demanding that UC Davis update and reform its policies concerning the reporting of sex crimes.

“Organizations with multiple associations with sex crimes must not be allowed to operate at UC Davis,” the Facebook page states. “By doing nothing to prevent these organizations from perpetuating misogyny, UC Davis is complicit with the continuous and predictable problems in these spaces.”

Additionally, the article demanded that the UC and Title IX track organizations with reports of sexual assaults and make that information available to the public.

Event organizers drafted a list of demands, which included improving access to sex crime prevention training for all students as well as promoting continuous training for campus organizations. Organizers presented the list of demands to Wendi Delmendo, the Title IX chief compliance officer, and Donald Dudley, the director of Student Judicial Affairs, during the rally.

Sarah Shemery, a fourth-year gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, was one of the student organizers of the event who hoped the rally would provide a safe space for survivors and allies to gather and discuss the epidemic of rape and sex crimes on college campuses.

“It’s our attempt to create dialogue in which we, as a community, acknowledge that the systems currently in place are broken and in desperate need of being dismantled and recreated to protect survivors and bring them justice,” Shemery said.

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org. Aaron Liss contributed reporting.