Stacy Lane

Courage was honored at De Anza College on June 10th. Three witnesses to an alleged rape were given awards for their “heroism and strength of action” in an event titled “Bearing Witness”. Lauren Bryeans, April Grolley, and Lauren Chief Elk, all former or current De Anza students, were individually introduced and given a “Courage Award” for coming forward to be witnesses to an alleged rape against a then De Anza student by members of the De Anza Baseball team last March. ABC’s 20/20 was on site to cover the award ceremony and filmed the event. The YWCA and Community Solutions, both women’s advocacy groups, also had representatives at the event. After each girl received their award, they collectively thanked everyone for coming, and noted that the true heroes in sexual violence are the victims. “The victim is our hero and the one with the courage and we accept this award for her,” said Lauren Bryeans.The event was intended not just to honor those who bear witness to crimes, but also to address the much broader issue of societal sexual violence.President Brian Murphy addressed the issue of sexual violence on a broader note. He said that the purpose of the event was to address how De Anza as an institution can take responsibility in the culture of sexual violence, and help bring awareness to it’s society. The event was primarily put together by Elizabeth Mjelde of the Women’s Studies Department and Rowena Tomaneng, of the on-campus group Institute of Community and Civic Engagement. Both said that it was time to discuss this issue publicly, and there would have been a need for this event even without the alleged rape of last year. Together, they put together a panel to discuss and answer audience questions on sexual violence. The panel consisted of the YWCA rep Patrick Donovan, the Community Solutions rep Emma Lucas, De Anza Students Marlo Custodio and Rehana Rehman, Head of Security Ben Rodriguez, counselor Jacky Reza and English professor Randy Spitter. “There was so much private discussion on the matter,” said Tomaneng, “it was time to discuss sexual violence openly and publicly.” The need for this discussion was made clear during the event. Audience members asked heated questions, students came forward to tell about their own experiences with sexual violence, and suggestions for solutions were made by students and teachers alike. The panel discussed several reasons for why sexual violence is occurring so frequently in our society. Donovan stated the statistic that one person every two seconds is sexually assaulted. “We all want to feel safe, so we look the other way and pretend that it isn’t happening,” he said in a private interview.Donovan offered a solution as well. He told the audience that the only way to address sexual violence is to speak out against it. Another goal of the event was to get the De Anza Community involved in addressing the issue. The event ended with the entire congregation breaking into groups to come up with ideas on how to address and help prevent sexual violence. Some ideas that were introduced included classes on sexual violence and self-defense, seminars for teachers and faculty on sexual violence, and groups on campus for students to discuss their feelings about the topic. The ICCE and De Anza Administration gathered all the ideas and will look at how De Anza can incorporate them in order to be an institution that will help reduce sexual violence. “Taking responsibility is a commitment that we must collectively make,” concluded Murphy.

A note from President Murphy: He intended to refer to the alleged rape as an incident and not an accident.