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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Students Protest University's Handling Of Tucker Reed Case

Brianna Sacks |
May 13, 2013 | 3:06 p.m. PDT


Sit-in participants at Monday's protest. (Brianna Sacks/Neon Tommy)
Sit-in participants at Monday's protest. (Brianna Sacks/Neon Tommy)
About 40 USC students gathered at the steps of the campus student union in support of the Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR) to protest the university's ruling in a recent sexual misconduct case.

The silent sit-in was prompted by the USC's Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards department's dismissal of Tucker Reed's case. Reed says she was raped by her boyfriend in 2010 and says she provided officials with his taped statements taking responsibility for the attack.

The university sent Reed a letter May 9, informing her of the ruling. Members of SCAR were angered by USC's decision not to include several recordings provided by Reed as evidence.

Alexa Schwartz, a junior at USC, co-founded SCAR with Reed this past March to bring attention to their concerns with the adjudication process in cases of sexual misconduct.

"We want victims to be treated with respect," Schwartz said. "We outlined a letter with several grievances made by the university, including their decision not to count all evidence."

Sit-in participants hung cardboard signs around their necks with statements including, "No Means No," and "This is what 'Fighting On' looks like."

READ MORE: Rape Goes Unpunished At USC 

Schwartz said the university should create a more accepting environment for those who report cases of sexual misconduct, as well as more prevention education for freshman and programs informing female students of what to do if they have been sexually assaulted.

"We would like all evidence to be counted," Schwartz said, "and the reason we are all gathered here today is because we do not feel that happened in this case."

Leslie Berntsen, 22, another SCAR member, said she wanted to see more education on rape culture on USC's campus, and believes there should be more intensive measures taken to punish accused rapists who are still students.

"Slaps on the wrist are common," Berntsen said. "Rape is a felony and while I understand students should learn from their mistakes, sexual assault should be punished with the fullest extent of the law."

READ MORE: On Rape Myths And Victim-Blaming

Participants also read from a letter addressed to USC President C.L. Max Nikias, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Michael Jackson, head of the Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards Raquel Torres-Retana and adjudicator Lindsey Goldstein.

"I just don't feel safe," Berntsen said. "I think there should be a more active stand against rape on this campus."

The students have not yet received any official response from those addressed in the letter.

Reach Editor-at-Large Brianna Sacks here.



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