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DePaul responds to students raising sexual assault awareness banner in Arts and Letters building

By Matthew Paras
On April 23, 2014

A group of students Wednesday afternoon raised banners in Arts and Letters Hall in protest of the DePaul Athletic Department and to draw awareness to sexual assault.

The group hung two large signs from the second floor of the building shortly before classes ended at 12:50 p.m. As students got out of their classes, they began taking pictures and gathering in crowds.

The first sign said "DPU Athletics We Know What You Did #RapeCulture #YouCantHide!" while the second read "Things That Cause Rape" with multiple boxes and the word rapist checked.

The anonymous group of students, called DePaul Exposed, released a statement Friday, April 25 explaining the purpose behind the banners.

"The purpose of this action was to bring light to the injustices being perpetuated at DePaul University, specifically the cover-up of several sexual assaults on campus. Over the past few years, the university has demonstrated a level of selectivity when it comes to alerting students on these incidents," the statement said.

The signs were up for about 20 minutes before DePaul's Public Safety came and took them down.

Public Safety Director Bob Wachowski said the banners were removed because they violated policy and because "we have to be cognizant of the fact that in an academic building setting, what we have to do is maintain that classes are not disrupted in any way."

When DePaul Public Safety came to take the banners down, students chanted to keep them up. Students also said that it was their First Amendment right to protest.

"We wanted to tell the administration that it wasn't okay to throw rape under the bus," one student close to the situation said. "We're not going to stand for this. This type of behavior is not okay and we're not going to be quiet."

"I don't think it was an attempt to call out the athletes, but the people who are in the positions of power," an observing student said. 

The university responded with a comment about the incident around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

"DePaul strictly prohibits sexual and relationship violence; it takes seriously allegations of all such violence," DePaul spokesperson Carol Hughes said. "All students who violate the university's Code of Student Responsibility are subject to DePaul's Student Judicial Process and the sanctions of that process.  Moreover, DePaul provides a variety of support and resources for survivors."

The DePaul Athletic Department had no further comment.

News Editor Grant Myatt contributed to this report.


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