Annenberg Radio

‘This is not consent:’ The USC movement of allyship with survivors of sexual assault

Protests against Sigma Nu aim to educate and foster safe spaces for the community

Protestors chanting with megaphones during a march against sexual assualt.

Content Warning: This story contains mentions of sexual abuse, assault and violence.

Protests have been ensuing across USC’s campus after a sexual assault allegation came to light in a recent DPS report. The alleged crime took place at the Sigma Nu fraternity during a party where drinks are believed to have been spiked.

AMBI: Protest March

As the rainclouds left the sky Monday evening, hundreds of USC students took to the wet streets of the Village to march to Frat Row. After allegations of sexual assault, students at the protest called for harsher actions against Sigma Nu. Their chants… said it all.

AMBI: Chanting

In the air people waved signs that illustrated their demands. In pink, was written “Abolish Greek Life,” on a cardboard cutout was “Believe Women,” and in bright yellow, “#MeToo.” The students occupied the front lawns of fraternities and demanded accountability in unison.

The official goal of the march was to educate people about the issue of consent at different houses on Frat Row. However, the undertones of their conversations told a different story.

Nour Myra Geha: We just want everyone to know that we’re here to fight for you.

That was Nour Myra Geha, she is a freshman studying international relations.

Geha: We are here to make sure the people who do these bad acts, the people who are the reason for sexual assaults, they should know that they will have consequences, and they should know that we will not remain silent because we’ve been silent for a very long time.

As a statement to this outrage, Geha wore a revealing top to the protest. Written across her chest in red were the words: “This is not consent.”

Geha: It says this is not consent because no matter what I wear, no matter what I do and as long as I’m not verbally or if I’m not verbally giving consent to anyone, it doesn’t mean they have my consent. Let me be in a thong. Let me be in a bikini. Let me be just walking over the streets. Nothing I do is consent.

Students like Geha believe the meaning of consent is not fully understood. According to a 2019 study conducted by the American Association of Universities, 1 in 3 undergraduate women at USC experienced sexual assault. This number surpasses other universities across the nation, as well as the national average.

Although Monday night’s march gathered a lot of people, more intimate spaces have also been available since last Wednesday. That was the day, a sexual assault allegation case reached the inboxes of the student body. This prompted feminist organization “Flow” to organize a protest on Sigma Nu’s fraternity house.

A sit-in was staged on the house’s front lawn on Friday. Students wrote on walls and hung up signs to voice their anger.

As the sun was setting and the temperature started to drop, a procession of candles began. Students set their tiny lights on the doorstep and sat around a megaphone. Here, anyone could speak their hearts out.

This work does not end tonight. It does not end with all of these rapists in prison. And it does not end until USC says more than meaningless words. And it does not end until patriarchy and its own all of its shitty ways are dismantled. So if you are in Greek life right now, please think about that. I encourage you to do something.

Many students are not only looking for people to drop their fraternities, but for Greek life to be abolished entirely… blaming this system for the traumatic experiences victims have gone through.

I’m sick of it. I’m f---ing sick of it. You know, many women are getting hurt, because of the system, and we don’t do anything about it. So, don’t let it stop here. Make sure to keep coming out, make sure to keep learning and doing your part.

Currently, the interfraternity council at USC has suspended Sigma Nu and all of the Greek Life activities until further notice. Over the weekend, other cases have also been brought up to USC’s Department of Public Safety, and their existence has been made public.

These events have not only outraged women across campus, but several men as well. Jack Reid, a sophomore journalism student, was one of the few men who spoke up.

Jack Reid: We’re not here because a woman chose to be raped. We’re here because a man chose to rape a woman. The problem is that it’s happening.

Amidst the bustling streets, swarms of eager news reporters with cameras approaching students, and the ever-growing uncertainty surrounding this case, there is one thing that protestors want to remain a constant: The fact that they’re fostering a safe space for open communication and community.

With new first-year students like Nour Myra Geha leading the cause for justice, the movement only seems to be gaining more momentum.

Geha: We’re here to stand with the victims. We’re here to tell them that we know you’ve been shamed for coming out and we’re here to stand with you, to show you support, to show you that we’re not going to stand this shaming anymore. And we want to show them that they have a really good community that they can come out to.

Although it is going to take a lot of initiative to abolish these systems of oppression, these protests serve as a testament to the future of the movement.