Petitions Condemning Rape Culture Recirculate Around Pomona

The Pomona Flyer petitions condemning campus rape culture were posted around Pomona College in early October. Sisters Protesting Ignorance, Rape, and Lies (SPIRAL), a group that works to increase awareness of rape culture and sexual assault on campus, posted these flyers in response to an incident anonymous Pitzer student who was drugged and sexually assaulted at CMC in May 2016.

The same petition was originally posted around campus in May 2016 in response to the letter written by the anonymous Pitzer student and published by The Peel, a Pitzer College online publication. The petition mentioned that messages of support for the student posted in May on Pitzer’s free-wall were vandalized, “demonstrating that this issue is not being treated with the gravity it warrants.”

Miller Saltzman PZ ‘17, Editor-in-Chief of The Peel, wrote in May that he hoped the letter would “show other survivors that they aren’t the only ones that went through something like this. I also hope it will empower other survivors to tell their story.”

SPIRAL wrote in a statement to TSL that they chose to revive the petition in October to show students that there are still people around campus who will advocate for survivors on campus.

“At a college campus with numerous other obligations, it can be easy to forget, or to prioritize other things. Consequently, as can be seen in this statement, one of our main goals included keeping this issue at the forefront of students’ minds—which we sought to continue reaching for by re-releasing the statement again this semester,” the organization wrote.

Additionally, they wanted to provide an opportunity for the class of 2020 “to learn about the history of rape culture on these campuses and become involved in the movement to eradicate it.”

Pomona Title IX Dean Daren Mooko said that the dialogue has to change in order to reduce sexual assault.

“There has to be a culture on campus that says that sexual assault is not tolerated here. That has to come from all angles from the college,” he said.

Cal Niekirk PO ‘19 said that he signed the petition partly because he felt solidarity with the student after reading their letter last year, but also because he believes it could help signal his support for other students.

“If someone saw [the petition] and saw my name, and if they felt like they were in a situation where they needed someone to talk to about it, then I could be there,” he said.

Niekirk also said that SPIRAL’s mission of spreading awareness about rape culture and sexual assault is absolutely crucial because it furthers awareness of problems that are not often discussed on campus.

After the letter was published, “I felt like an effort was being made by the students to accept the fact that there is a rape culture here on campus and as great a consortium as we have, there are still problems,” he said.

He added that spreading awareness is “the only way we can stop this from happening in the future.”

According to their statement, SPIRAL was founded in the 1980s in order to protest the fact that a Pitzer student who assaulted multiple women at the 5Cs was allowed to remain on campus with no negative consequences. The group participated in a vocal campaign to protest how Pomona College handled Yenli Wong’s PO ’15 sexual assault cases, which led to changes in Title IX procedures at the college.

The members of SPIRAL requested anonymity in order to avoid overshadowing their goal of eradicating rape culture at the Claremont Colleges.

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