warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

What's The Point Of Protesting Rape?

Lilian Min |
May 13, 2013 | 3:21 p.m. PDT


S.C.A.R. fights for acknowledgement of and justice for sexual violence victims. (Lilian Min, Neon Tommy)
S.C.A.R. fights for acknowledgement of and justice for sexual violence victims. (Lilian Min, Neon Tommy)
My roommate, Alexa Schwartz, is one of the co-founders of USC's Student Coalition Against Rape (S.C.A.R.). The other co-founder, Tucker Reed, recently had her case alleging rape against a former boyfriend dismissed by the university.

Both of these women, in conjunction with the other members of S.C.A.R., fight for acknowledgement of and justice for sexual assault victims.

I’m familiar with Alexa, Tucker and other members of S.C.A.R. on a personal level, and I have seen firsthand the emotional effects of the struggle they’ve faced in dealing with the USC administration as well as law enforcement in the aftermath of sexual assault. 

I’m also a woman in college, which means that I’ve dealt with my own share of unwanted sexual aggressors—and the fact that most people in college have an idea of what I’m talking about shows that these things really aren’t as secret or outrageous as many people claim them to be.

Thus, although I am not formally a member of S.C.A.R. due to a slew of other extracurricular, academic and work engagements, it was only natural to stand alongside them in today’s demonstration, as members and allies of S.C.A.R. protested the USC administration’s response to sexual misconduct cases.

The protest took the form of both human mics in the offices of various USC administrators—University President C.L. Max Nikias, Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Jackson, USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (SJACS) director Raquel Torres-Retana and SJACS adjudicator Lindsey Goldstein—as well as a sit-in protest on the steps of the Student Union.

While reading our letter, which included portions of federal Title IX legislation and cited the Obama Administration's 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter in support of Title IX, outloud in the offices of the USC administrators listed, we were treated politely and were not told to leave as we listed our grievances and made our call to action—an official response within a week. 

However, we did not get to meet any of the officials in question in the flesh either, even though there was reason to believe that at least one of them was in his office: secretaries don’t have to get up and leave their desks to ask an empty room whether or not there’s a person in it. 

While on the steps of the Student Union, we were met with a combination of blank stares and silent but obvious leers, as well as the inquiries of people who were genuinely interested in hearing the details behind S.C.A.R.’s existence and mission. 

One of my personal fears going into today’s demonstration was that the misogynistic and hateful rhetoric that so often populates any online mention about rape and the legal and social mistreatment of rape victims would emerge in the real world. 

None of that particular brand of vitriol was hurled our way today, but then again, what’s par for the course for Internet commenting is just too socially unacceptable to shout out loud in public. Because publicly, everybody’s for justice for rape victims, so long as they meet the “right criteria.” 

Even though very few people meet the “right criteria.” Even though so much of the "right criteria" is determined by the very institutions and societal norms that marginalize rape victims, no matter what they do, or say or look like.

Indeed, that’s a huge part of what S.C.A.R. stands for: protection and community for those who have been mistreated not just by their original assaulters, but by institutions that either refuse to or are unequipped to help victims attain either legal justice or emotional healing.

As the members of S.C.A.R. await official responses from the administrators they reached out to today, all I and other allies can continue to do is spread awareness about the struggles that my roommate, that my friends, that the USC community in general face when confronting and addressing sexual violence. 

This isn’t a problem limited to women, either. Rape is a word that scares a lot of people and makes them defensive, but our culture of fear and suspicion toward rape victims does nothing but let those who perpetrate these crimes off the hook.

I fight on with S.C.A.R. to seek legal justice for those who have been subject to sexual violence. I fight on with S.C.A.R. to encourage healthy conversations about consent and sexual boundaries free from the diatribe so often haphazardly directed at rape victims. I fight on with S.C.A.R. so no one else ever has to face the aftermath of such violence alone.


Reach Music Editor Lilian Min here; follow her on Twitter here and on Google+ here.

If you, or anyone you know, have been a victim of sexual assault at the University of Southern California and feel that the university did not respond appropriately to your case, or if you are simply interested in ending impunity for rapists at USC, please contact the USC Student Coalition Against Rape (S.C.A.R.) here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.