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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Students show support for sexual assault survivors, demand action

Students have called for action from campus officials after widespread backlash towards UCSB-PD and administration’s failure to identify the fraternity involved in numerous sexual assault incidents on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, on the UCSB campus in Santa Barbara, Calif. A table covered in paper reading I Stand With Survivors was embellished with colorful names as a welcoming gesture for people to sign.

“Sign the petition to stand with survivors,” demonstrators shouted out, posters in hand as a wave of students rushed by under the midday sun Thursday at UCSB. 

Dozens of students assembled Thursday for a Demonstration Against Sexual Assault to gather signatures on a petition demanding that campus administration take action in light of three reports of sexual assault in the past month, all stemming from the Sigma Pi fraternity. 

UCSB campus organizations Intersectional Feminists, M.U.J.E.R and Take Back the Night collaborated to host the demonstration with tables lining the campus plaza called The Arbor.

City College student Rebeca Adam, admin of the Instagram account @catcallsofsantabarbara, accepted an invitation to collaborate after receiving a flyer from UCSB Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity office assistant Eli Diaz.

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Adam recalled being in “complete disbelief” upon hearing the allegations. 

“For us, it’s about denormalizing sexual assault,” said Adam. “As a whole, we all need to start talking about this and not just addressing it for damage control.”

Altogether, over 900 signatures were collected in solidarity with the survivors. 

Colorful, handmade signs decorated the bustling walkway, reading “I’m past patiently waiting,” and “hold ur bros accountable.” 

A “survivor-oriented” list of demands was compiled that will be proposed to campus leadership.

“The fact that people have been showing up all day and signing the petition shows that they really care about holding the university and the organizations accountable,” said Sreya Subramanyan, Students Against Sexual Assault educational coordinator. 

S.A.S.A. is an organization “dedicated to the elimination of sexual assault” on campus and also has a chapter at City College. 

Subramanyan emphasized a strong need for transparency in communication and more responsibility put on administration, including Chancellor Henry Yang

Over the past month, the UCSB Police Department has reported at least five different assaults, three of which were associated with Sigma Pi. 

The first alleged assault occurred on Sigma Pi property on Oct. 3. 

A “timely warning” was issued Oct. 17 stating that there were two attempted assaults “involving date-rape drugs” at a party hosted by the fraternity. The statement said that the violent act “may have occurred at other fraternity events,” and a surge of backlash at the university’s failure to identify the perpetrators followed. 

Federal law Title IX protects survivors with anonymity but includes the perpetrators as well to prevent possible identification of the victim by proxy.

Following the widespread concern amongst students and community members, an alleged rape occurred Oct. 26 and another timely warning was sent out two days later. The alert provided a vague description of the suspect, describing the student as a “white male adult, 22 years old, 5’10”… medium-length brown hair and brown eyes.” 

“Multiple emails were being sent out and the first one didn’t hold any accountability for anybody, so it kept happening,” said UCSB student Ashley Garelick, a member of Intersectional Feminists. 

President of Intersectional Feminists Kyremina Youssef addressed what students can do to dismantle rape culture.

“Bystander intervention is really important. So if you’re at a party and you realize something, step in, and if they’re your friend you need to tell them that’s not okay,” she said. “Just because you’re their friend, you can’t be friendly about it, someone’s getting hurt.” 

While the Clery Act requires Campus Security Authorities to report crimes committed on campus or UCSB affiliated property, which includes fraternities and sororities, Greek life leadership does not fall under the requirement.

As of late, an investigation has been opened to handle the reports. 

“A lot of things could have been avoided from [the administration’s] end,” Youssef said. “We need to know what they’re doing because we don’t know.”

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