Pace Students Walk Out To Demand Stronger Protections Against Sexual Harassment, Violence

By Rajvi Desai
amNewYork, New York

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Pace University students walked out of class Thursday to demand that school administrators strengthen policies relating to sexual abusers on campus.

amNewYork, New York

Clad in raincoats, clutching umbrellas and holding signs that read “#MeToo,” more than 100 students rallied outside One Pace Plaza in support of Pace senior Ariella Riapos, who recently voiced her story of sexual abuse by a former boyfriend in a Facebook post, leaving many in the crowd in tears.

“We are here to demand that our university takes our issues seriously and does whatever they can to protect us,” Riapos, 22, told the crowd, while perched atop a ladder and holding a megaphone. “We are here to demand that we have a safe college experience.”

She said that as a freshman, she was emotionally and sexually abused by a former male student, who later proceeded to stalk her for two years. She said she reported him to school authorities, but did not feel that she was given sufficient support.

The male student, who Riapos said is a year older than she is, is no longer enrolled at Pace University, according to a school spokeswoman. The school took action against him and he did not graduate, the spokeswoman said, adding that Pace is limited in what information it can discuss about possible student disciplinary actions.

Riapos said that the response from officials was “too little too late.” She, along with members of the PaceUEndRape student coalition, delivered a list of demands to Marijo Russell-O’Grady, dean of students, on April 11.

Their demands, which one faculty member attending the rally deemed “very reasonable,” range include emailing the name and photo of every “persona non grata,” or PNG, to the student body at the start of every semester; and employing at least 10 full-time members in the school’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Education.

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