Today more than 100 University of Southern California students staged a demonstration to call attention to the misogynistic email allegedly sent by a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, and the "misogyny, racism, classism, and homophobia on campus."
Click to viewThe "USC Walkout for a Safer Campus," which is shown in this KTLA report, was organized by USC Coalition for a Safer Campus and Community, Women's Student Assembly and several other campus organizations. Students said they weren't just protesting the email, but the school's response and the issues it brought to light. (USC officials claim that the email didn't originate at the school, though one anonymous personal account alleges that this is a cover up.) Corey Arterian, who is a member of the Coalition, told the Daily Trojan on Friday:
"We just want the administration to see that the dissemination of the email and what the email said represents a larger problem that the USC community refuses to ignore ... Furthermore, we want the administration to give it the attention it deserves. We also felt like this would be a great way to spark a public dialogue ... This is not an attack, but rather an encouragement to reflect on our cultural perceptions of women and men."
Men were encouraged to attend to dispel the idea that the controversy only amounted to women getting worked up about a harmless bit of frat humor. Graduate student Tal Peretz said he planned to attend the event because:
"The fact is that emails like that give all men a bad name, and it makes it completely justifiable for women to fear men or have a distaste for men ... So I think men need to be out there and working to change that."
According to the L.A. Times, Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson, who has been criticized for his response, spoke to the crowd during an open mic session. He called the email, "the most repugnant thing I've ever read," and added, "We are willing to work with anyone who has better ideas for improving what we do ... Don't be silent ... Do make your voices heard."
As we saw in the Yale Title IX case, it seems many school administrators aren't willing to take the problem of discrimination on campus seriously, even after the school is publicly humiliated. Disturbingly, the first impulse even after an incident of sexual harassment is widely reported is to issue a statement, then hope the story will blow over after the current students move on (and a fresh crop enter a threatening campus environment). It's encouraging to see more students challenging school leaders to admit that sexual harassment is a problem on campus, and demanding a real change.
Earlier: Title IX Suit Filed Against Yale University For "Hostile Sexual Environment"
Frat Life And The USC Email
Student Explains Frat Email's Origins, Alleges Cover Up
Frat Email Explains Women Are "Targets," Not "Actual People"