BY ERIK PILLAR AND SAM HABERLAND | MARCH 1, 2016
Close to 100 Edgewood College students held silent protest on Monday over the not guilty finding of a school judicial board hearing on a fall sexual assault case.
The halls of second floor Predolin found students arm in arm and with mouths taped standing outside of the Residence Life and President’s offices in protest. News crews from WMTV, WKOW, WISC, and OTE News were present for the event.
The protest was sparked by an alleged off-campus rape of an Edgewood College student by another student, according to the alleged survivor who contacted OTE News over the weekend. She has requested anonymity because she fears being sued for defamation by her alleged attacker in retaliation for speaking out. So far Edgewood officials have declined to comment on this assault. OTE News is investigating these and other claims made, and will have more as the situation develops.
During the protest, School President Scott Flanagan told reporters in a closed door meeting that “Sexual misconduct has no place on our campus. If there’s anything we can do to make our campus safer for everybody here, we’ll look into that.”
Flanagan knew of one other assault investigated last fall, but was unable to comment in further detail. In an email to the student body he said, “If you see something that you believe is inappropriate, intervene.”
The judicial board made their ruling on Friday, and the It’s On Us!! protest was put into action over the weekend. Four students – Jorge Zuniga, Marisha Ash, Janae Buege-McLain and Saiya Yanagihashi – met Sunday and launched a Facebook event about the protest the same day. The group will release a press statement with more information soon.
“Our goal is to change the judicial system and to change how each case is handled” Yanagihashi said in an interview after the protest. She cited a need for further education and training of board members as a required change to the current system.
When a sexual assault is reported to Edgewood administration and an alleged perpetrator is accused, a call goes out to any faculty members who have taken the required two-hour sexual assault seminar online. A new panel is chosen for each case heard by the board.
On the day of the protest, students dragged dorm mattresses to the Residence Life office with messages written on them with chalk. Their message’s were clear – “Justice Begins with You,” “Rape is about violence, not sex,” “Harm to others is harm to all.”
The silent protest’s march ended in the main lobby of Predolin hall, where the four student organizers addressed why they started this movement, and how it was going to take more than just four people to make any real change in the process. Yanagihashi said she hopes for “more training, and a change in the mindset of the board. Right now, it feels like the victim has to prove they are a victim”.