At Michigan State University, Rapists Get Off, While Anti-Rape Students Get Arrested and Fined

From Change.Org:

by Alex DiBranco
April 29, 2011

Megan Spencer and three fellow students now all have criminal records, thanks to Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. What did they do? Stay past 6 p.m. at a peaceful teach-in about sexual violence at Michigan State University in response to the Administration’s failure to address rape allegations against two star basketball players. At MSU, the rapists get off scot-free, while students peacefully protesting campus rape culture get arrested, charged, and fined.

“This is a really unfair standard to punish students who were protesting rape and not students who commit rape,” said Spencer, a leader of the MSU Coalition Against Sexual Violence, a group of students formed last fall in response to a shocking incident in which two students athletes were accused of rape, with one corroborating the victim’s testimony to police — yet never faced any consequences. The Coalition of concerned students came together with nine demands to improve sexual violence on campus, demands over 1000 members have signed their petition in support of.

After rallies and protests, the Coalition succeeded in securing a couple of meetings with MSU’s Vice President and Title IX coordinator. But never the president. President Simon apparently doesn’t consider campus sexual violence an issue worthy of her time, although there have been dozens of reported rapes in the past two years and not a single perpetrator suspended or expelled. While some improvements have come out of these meetings, the Coalition continues to fight for the implementation of all their demands, especially disciplinary proceedings against the alleged rapists and a public statement from President Simon denouncing sexual violence.

“We were claiming space on campus because women have such limited action to space,” Spencer explained to regarding the March sit-in. “We also were sitting there and we were talking about rape myths, and we were talking about consent, and student were sharing poetry and they were talking about their experiences, and it was a very positive and productive atmosphere.” But the Administration building they had occupied was closing at 6 p.m. and police told them that they would be arrested — unless President Simon gave them permission to remain.

She didn’t. “Basically the police admitted to it, that she gave the go-ahead on the phone, and the Vice President basically admitted to it.” Spencer and the other students tried to negotiate a reasonable solution, to continue their productive discussion and symbolic act without undue disruption, promising to be out of the building in the morning before anyone arrived at work. But within about 15 minutes, she and the three students who remained were arrested and charged with trespassing.

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