Students protest alleged sexual assault

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Students, (From left to right) Ally Vahalik, Courtney Hood, Isao Yoshino, Haruka Kawabata and Mana Hasegawa held handmade signs during their protest of alleged sexual assault that occurred on campus. Erin Granger / Sun Star


UAF students protested on the front stairs of the Wood Center in solidarity with the victim of an alleged sexual assault on Oct. 20.

The accuser shared her story via Facebook on Wednesday, Oct. 19, which described how the alleged assailant was removed from Bartlett Hall only to be placed back there by administration, without alerting her, two weeks later. The accuser withdrew from school following this event, according to her post.

Ally Vahalik, a freshman linguistics student, organized the protest.

“[She’s] not going to her classes because her rapist is still in school here,” Vahalik said. “So I’m not going to my classes today, because she can’t go to her classes without having to see the person who has completely violated her,”

Vahalik, along with five other students, convened on the steps with hand made signs around 2 p.m. Vahalik’s sign read: “Why does alcohol excuse his actions, but condemn hers?”

“There’s all these signs around campus explaining what consent is and all this stuff but so far it’s just talk because the faculty isn’t doing anything to punish her rapist,” Vahalik said. “It’s really sad that her education has to come to a halt right now because no one is willing to do anything to protect her rights.”

“I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable but I’m not going to stay silent just so that people can be comfortable,” Birdie Wattum, a fellow protester, said. “I’m not going to keep this quiet. She tried to go to a lot of higher-ups, she tried to go to the chancellor and nothing has really been done.”

Snow began to fall as the protesters sat on the front steps of Wood Center. Another student held a sign reading: “Why is he innocent until proven guilty, but she’s lying until proven honest?”

“We’re a smaller school but that doesn’t make this injustice any smaller or any less prevalent especially to the people involved,” Wattum said. “We just want this to be dealt with. We want the university to admit that they made a mistake and to own up to it.”

“The fact that our school isn’t doing anything about it really infuriates me,” Vahalik said.

At the time of this writing, the accuser’s facebook post has 565 shares.

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9 Responses

  1. concernedblack says:

    It’d be cool if the signs were no gender specific just for equality’s sake. Uaf is just a man hating community now.

  2. Amber says:

    I had a similar experience. I had a near miss with someone in the dark parking lot at uaf. At first the campus police were very helpful but, as I asked for certain accomadations (i have ptsd due in some part to sexual abuse and rape, this incident triggered me) I was ultimately laughed at and brushed off. I faded out of school and won’t have access to a college degree because of this incident. Uaf is a horrid school because of stuff like this.

  3. jx says:

    As if Fairbanks wasn’t miserable enough before adding the “Listen and Believe” crowd into the mix. No thanks.

    As infuriating as it may be to the indignant Feminists present, the man has rights which aren’t superseded by hearsay, unless said hearsay is proven to be true in a court of law. Write all the signs you want, UAF is correct in its actions so far.

  4. Martin van der Kroon says:

    I wish to make a correction. The young woman who shared her Facebook post on October 19th wrote that she was raped, not sexually assaulted. These two are not mutually interchangeable. It is true that rape also includes sexual assault, but rape specifically includes unwanted penetration vaginally, orally, and/ or anally. Rape is considered far more serious than sexual assault in the court of law.

    To the Sun Star; will you be writing on the ‘response’ of UAF regarding this situation? It would be great to know why they believed the accused (alleged rapist) could move back into Bartlett Hall, and not continue or pursue an investigation.

  5. db cooper says:

    We ban guns for health and safety.
    We ban tobacco for health and safety.
    We ban marijuna for health and safety.
    But as a community we don’t actually care about the safety of the majority of students on campus.
    We might as well change our name to Trump University.

  6. Sine Anahita says:

    jx, you are incorrect.
    The UA Board of Regents state in the “General Rules for Administrative Reviews”, the following:
    1. The university student conduct system is an administrative process and is not a court of law and is not held to standards applied in criminal proceedings. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. Testimony containing hearsay may be heard, and will be weighted appropriately, taking into account the reliability of the information. Findings and conclusions will be based upon information presented during the review.”
    Read more about student rights and responsibilities here:
    Based on what I have read, seen, and heard, the university has not met its obligation to ensure the well-being of students while the investigation is ongoing. In part, that may be because the university’s student services have been slashed due to budget cuts.

  7. Mike says:

    UAF needs to be more transparent.

  8. db cooper says:

    Exaclty a year ago we were told campus will be safer.
    Students will be protected through title IX reporting.
    That our admins will do better.

    A year later?

  9. Susan H says:

    In the early 80’s, I went to the head of UAF security and asked them what the stats were for sexual assault on campus, and why they didn’t make the public (especially the students) aware of the problem. I was basically brushed off. I asked why we couldn’t implement a volunteer student escort service like I’d seen and used at UConn, where screened male students were on call to walk women home on campus. I was told I could call security if I needed a ride, and an officer would pick me up. I told the chief that was in no way equivalent to a structured, publicized escort service specifically created to address sexual assault against women. It was especially not equivalent in the message it gave (or didn’t give) to both male and female students, and besides a real escort service made the volunteers feel like they were helping remedy the sexual assault problem. I was again brushed off. Thirty-five years later, is UAF still sweeping its sexual assault problem under the rug? It’s criminal.

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