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Story 2

One of their leaders sexually assaulted me while we were spending time getting to know each other. He kept saying to me “it’s okay” even though I said no repeatedly and had to physically cover my vulva with my hands to prevent him from having sex with me. His weight was crushing me and I felt fear that I was being over powered. When I shared my status as a survivor from sexual assault to student senate, the fraternity member senators told me I was tarnishing their name and attacking their brotherhood and that they would not stand for it. I wonder how we can ever expect change in Greek life sexual assault if the members feel threatened by our bravery to share our stories rather than feel compelled to end sexual assault in Greek life.

They must be held accountable and redirect their energy to ending and preventing sexual assault by following the success of UC Berkeley Greek life and working with commissions and committees of student senate whom are already fighting to address these issues.

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Story 1

I was raped by a soccer player. We were both sober and met up to talk about a class. I assumed he’d probably make a move, but he didn’t even try, he immediately pinned me down. The details aren’t important, the repercussions are. I worked for a school department at the time and told 4 different mandated reporters, a year later — a year after his graduation, I found out they all broke federal law and didn’t file a Title IX. He sent me to the hospital. I had to take time off school, I have to do an entire extra year. I have crippling PTSD. But he was a soccer player, he was a senior, it happened on school property… all too important of factors that lead me to not believe the lack of filing a report was accidental. I hope they report next time, I didn’t know my options till it was too late — he graduated. So many of my friends thought I was crazy, waiting for me to get over it, before my physical body had even healed. Please listen and be patient to your friends, always. It can save their lives, like my true friends, family, and favorite Professor did.

Protect employees before customers.

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When is the Right Time?

By: Christina Lee

Kobe Bryant—dead in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. Later we would find out that the legendary basketball star’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna had also passed away in the crash alongside seven others.

Headlines cropped up relaying the news of the tragic death of the 41-year-old sports legend. Known for his 20-season professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers and as the recipient of numerous awards, Bryant’s sudden death resounded with basketball fans across the nation and all over the world.

However, the athlete’s death was not the only keyword blaring across the headlines. Reporters, victims of sexual assault, and critics of the late athlete were now posthumously bringing up Bryant’s rape allegation from July 2003.

That year, a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado hotel claimed that Bryant, who was 24 at the time, had raped her in a hotel room, bruises on her neck a testimony to Bryant’s strangling of the woman. She then filed a police report but later refused to testify. The case was dropped, but the damage was done. Bryant admitted to having sexual intercourse with the woman yet insisted that the ordeal was consensual.

Bryant then released a statement: “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

Bryant was arrested on July 4, 2003.

Now in an era of internet cancel culture and easily viral boycott sentiments, outspoken victims of sexual assault as well as reporters from major news publications were quick to point out this case from 17 years ago, criticizing the flawed history of this highly praised basketball legend. Their efforts did not go undetected.

Upon tweeting about Bryant’s rape accusation just hours after his death, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez was put on administrative leave, the news publication deeming her tweets to display “poor judgment” surrounding the issue. Sonmez had to stay in a hotel overnight as a result of a leak of her home address and unrelenting rape and death threats.

This concept of constant threatening, attempting to maliciously silence the outspoken seems to be a recurring pattern for those invested or involved in this issue. Bryant’s accuser was also as dangerously threatened—a man offered to kill her for $3 million, another left death threats on the woman’s answering machine, a Long Beach man sending her up to 70.

The number of awards, the countless seasons one has played, the amount of times one has claimed that the sex was consensual do not overwrite the consequences that another individual must face for the rest of their life, all because one man could not control himself at a Colorado hotel. For Bryant, that day in July may have been a moment he wanted to erase from history after the exposure of his act to the public, but to the victim, that day most likely remains as one of the most traumatic experiences of her lifetime—how can someone of such high social standing understand what it is like to continue living under the label of a traumatizing sexual-assault case in a modern-day, witch-hunting society?

Perhaps we haven’t given enough thought to the repercussions of the victim speaking out—death threats, harassment, an invasion of privacy. And for Bryant? A $136-million contract and endorsements for some of the largest corporations in America. The difference is too clear to deny that this rape allegation can only remain as a trivial speck in an athlete’s career.

For fans, Bryant’s character as it is re-exposed and re-interpreted by the public can create conflicting sentiments—one man’s sexual misconduct from years ago could tarnish and complicate his whole career, creating tumult even after his death, even 17 years after its occurrence. But maybe that’s the price to pay for fame. Maybe that’s the price to pay for the social elites who abuse their power.

It’s impossible to doubt that fans, critics, reporters will continue to bring up his past; we will continue to have discussion surrounding the privileges of powerful figures in popular culture, and we will continue to reiterate that one’s status is not an excuse for poor behavior. We will continue to discuss these issues to establish that we cannot habituate the silencing of victims, nor can we encourage the erasure of the ugly truth to serve the already-powerful.

The victim was threatened for accusing the successful basketball star during his career; Sonmez was put on leave for bringing up the topic after his death. If now is not the right time to talk about rape, when is it?

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Running Away from the Theatre Called Life

Anonymously published. 
The writer is an international student at UC Davis, and is using this piece to recollect one of her first reflections on social justice, as well as why it is important, especially for young girls.

My younger sister and I walked into the theatre, super excited. Rhythm Boyz’ movie Chal Mera Putt was the second Punjabi movie ever to be released in our city, and we couldn’t wait to see this comedy film starring Amrinder Gill and Simi Chahal (our favorites)! The movie had an undertone of the Punjabi immigrant experience in the UK, a topic that resonated deeply with me since I had come to the US. As we looked for our seats, a familiar feeling of discomfort crept over us. Our place was next to two men (sounds so trivial, doesn’t it?), and the rest of the theatre was empty. I couldn’t tell what it was – but I did not want my little sister to have to sit there.

My mind drifted back to two years ago when we had gone to watch Nadeem Baig’s Pakistani movie, Punjab Nahi Jaungi. Ten minutes into the trailers, we had been creeped out by the exceptionally sexual remarks that hoards of men in the audience were shouting out at the women on the screen. As a 17-year-old, I looked around to see only two other women who looked equally disturbed by the hooting, as their husbands, brothers, boyfriends or just friends, glared at the catcallers. By now, my sister, a quiet 13-year-old, was silently wishing our mother was with her. I looked into her big scared eyes and asked, “Do you want to leave?” She jumped at the proposition, and two minutes later, we were finally able to breathe freely.

After this bout of momentary joy, we grabbed some lunch and roamed around the mall,
contemplating if we would tell anyone that we ran away from a movie theatre because we felt so uncomfortable. Would we be judged for wasting money on two tickets? Would we be grounded – would we both not be able to go to the movies alone, again?

As my sister kept poking me for selfies, I recalled my grandmother explaining her concern when my sister and I went out alone. When I told her that we were responsible enough, she would brush off the topic by saying, “It is a Muslim country. What do we know?” And that was usually the end of the conversation because I’d shoot her rebuttals down, telling her that this was my home. Dubai was the place my sister, and a million other Indians, called home. We knew the alleys and people like the back of our hands, much better than we ever could in the motherland.

Suddenly, I began to fathom that concern as I looked at my sister. Maybe, my grandmother couldn’t name her fear when we went out alone. Perhaps, this was her way of telling us to be careful. But I was still not convinced – why did she have to ask us to be careful? Why had we, as young girls, internalized the fear of masculinity?

Why have we given our counterparts the power to make us feel uncomfortable? Why had I given that to those men in the theatre, to make me run away?

I continued to brood over this instance for the next few months, questioning my actions. As a young adult gaining insight into Mental Health advocacy, I began studying the layers of complexity our experiences as South Asian women consist of. With each event, workshop, and article I wrote, I healed. At the same time, a voice in me whispered, and screamed until I finally decided to listen, “You shouldn’t have taught your sister to run away the other day!”

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how wrong I had been. I had done precisely what society demands of young girls. I had told her that it was best to run away and hide, instead of teaching her that she was strong enough to reclaim her wholeness. I did not want to propagate the idea that it was okay for women to be shunned and othered – neither in a movie theatre nor on the stage of life.

My flashback ended as I almost dropped the pizza popcorn (10/10 recommend) that we’d picked up on the way. It could’ve been the lighting or my mind playing games, but she was looking up to me. Two years later, here I was, lucky to be able to root a tree of confidence and self-worth, in man’s jungle of mankind. And I was not going to let this chance pass.

I sat down, smiling, and she followed. We were going to see this movie, and no one could stop us. Secretly though, my heart was at peace only when I spotted a few women who entered just in time for the film. But I think I can give myself some credit for doing my job just right.