Students protest alleged sexual assault
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.