University of Michigan students 'fed up' over sexual violence on campus

Students hold protest on campus of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

By Will Jones - Reporter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Students in Ann Arbor are fed up.

They are claiming it is easier to get football tickets to the Big House than to report a rape by a football player. Chanting as loudly as they could Tuesday, they hoped their voices might bring about change to a culture at the University of Michigan which, they say, silences victims of sexual violence.

"It's not OK to live on a campus where you have to be worried about walking home at night," said sophomore Cassandra VanDam. "It's not OK to live somewhere where rape jokes are accepted."

Students walked across campus to the administration building Tuesday afternoon.

The event was organized by the student union in protest of the university's handling of a rape investigation involving a football player from 2009. Brendan Gibbons, a kicker for the team, was expelled last December for violating the sexual misconduct policy, but he's never been criminally charged.

"The perception I have as a student is that he wasn't punished for three or four years because he was a football player," said freshman Alex Pietrantoni. "So they were evaluating the profits and the prestige of the football program over the well-being of the rest of the students."

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is now investigating a Title IX complaint against the university that was filed last year.

"We need to make sure things like this are being taken care of properly at our university to make sure we have a safe campus environment for students," said sophomore Andrea Paine.

Students said Tuesday will be the first of many protests on campus against sexual violence.

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