CalArts Students Protest Sexual Assault With Walkout

Student sit-in protesting the handling of incidents of sexual violence at CalArts. Photo: courtesy the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

At 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, students at Valencia’s California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) walked out of their classes to protest the university’s response to sexual assault cases, reports KHTS.

CalArts is being criticized for its response to the alleged rape of a freshman film student in February. After a two-month investigation, the accused rapist received a one-year suspension, but was allowed to complete the semester. A detailed article from Al Jazeera America provides an account of CalArts’s handling of the case, in which the victim was asked about the length of her dress and her drinking and partying habits, as well as the harassment she faced from friends of her alleged rapist after coming forward about the assault.

The victim, who has been publicly identified only by her first name, Regina, then filed a Title IX complaint against the school, making it one of 85 federally-funded universities now under investigation for their response to incidents of sexual violence on their campuses.

“The men who intimidated, harassed, and stalked me for reporting the assailant are in the same classes as me this semester,” said Regina in an email to the Huffington Post. “If the school won’t even protect me from those students, how can it promise to keep me safe when the man who raped me returns to campus?”

Campus rape protests are taking place nationwide, most notably at Columbia University in New York, where a rape victim will carry her mattress until her alleged rapist is expelled, or she graduates (see “Columbia Student’s Striking Mattress Performance“).

The CalArts walkout saw 200 students hold a sit-in outside university executive offices and 400 people, including faculty and administrators attend a protest meeting, reports the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. In addition, over 200 students have signed a petition to “Update the CalArts policy on how rape allegations are handled and how alleged assailants are reprimanded.”

“We need the administration to understand that we’re really serious about this—a committee is not going to make us go away,” walkout organizer Cori Redstone, a second-year MFA student, told Hyperallergic.

“At CalArts, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is always our top priority,” said CalArts spokesperson Margaret Crane in a statement. “We take matters of sexual misconduct like this very seriously and in this particular incident. We followed all institute protocols and procedures.”

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