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November 20, 2014 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 3A

From Page 1A
to address sexual assault at their
respective schools.
Public Policy senior Laurel
Ruza was approached through
Generation Progress, a D.C.-
based organization that works
with the White House to inspire
social change, to organize the
roundtables this week. She said
she invited students from dif-
ferent organizations who were
passionate about sexual assault
awareness to help organize the
event, including leaders from the
Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center and the Cen-
From Page 1A
we're going to help you out,' "
Roquemore said. "By the time
I was coming back to do my
internship, they told me I could
not come in and do the intern-
ship anymore."
She met with administrators
in the School of Social Work
again in July.
"They basically told me that I
was a liability to the campus and
a risk to the campus, and until
this is dismissed, I wasn't going
to be allowed to do my internship
anymore," she said. "Univer-
sity of Michigan School of Social
Work has created unnecessary
hardship for me by getting in
the way of my education. Right
now, you probably wouldn't even
know about this story if they
had just allowed me to finish my
internship. I would've graduated
already and I would already be
In that meeting - which
Roquemore's mother, a gradu-
ate of the School of Social Work,
attended - Roquemore said
administrators told her they
were "standing by some kind of
policy, which they never sent me
in writing."
In a follow-up e-mail sent Oct.
2, Mike Spencer, associate dean
of educational programs,reached
out to Roquemore regarding her
pending case after By Any Means
Necessary - a national coalition
fighting for affirmative action,
immigration rights and general
equality - began advocating on
Roquemore's behalf. The group
speaks on campus frequently
and protested Roquemore's case
outside the School of Social Work
Nov. 12.
we agreed that we would pursue
a return to your field placement
once there is a resolution to your
case, which I believe is coming
up very soon," Spencer wrote.
"Our understanding was also
that you wished to return to your
former field placement, but that
you understood that they could
not have you at the agency while
your case was pending. Would
you like to discuss this further
with us? If so, please let me know
and we will schedule a meeting.
I know this is a difficult time for
you and I wish you the best in
your upcoming court case. If you

have any updates, that would be
useful to know."
Roquemore said she felt her
suspension alone was wrong and
that the underlying message of
the e-mail was unfair. She said
the case may take a while to be
resolved in court and her educa-
tion should not be impeded when
the charges against her have not
been proven true.
"It's really an unfair practice
that they're doing," she said. "I'm
innocent until proven guilty. I
haven't even seen a day in court,
and they decided to take my edu-
cation in their own hands and
stop me from completing (it). It's
so unreal right now that this has
happened ... this didn't have to go
this way."
The unspecified policy Roque-
more spoke of may refer to the
Social Work School's Student
Code of Academic and Profes-
sional Conduct as well as its
terms for removal from field
According to the code of con-
duct, "Generally, unacceptable
professional misconduct refers to
behavior that calls into question
a student's ability or fitness to
practice as a professional social
worker. Students are expected
to adhere to the National Asso-
ciation of Social Workers Code
of Ethics which is hereby incor-
porated under these policies and
procedures and to the policies

tral Student Government.
"It's very purposefully not
affiliated with an organization,"
Abudaram said. "A huge issue like
sexual assault on campus can't
just be addressed by one organi-
zation on campus or one group of
people. We want to address the
issue as holistically as possible."
The students at the round-
tables hoped to work with the
University administration to
enact the changes they discussed.
Ideas included providing con-
sistent sexual assault education
throughout a student's time at the
University, modifying the Stu-
dent Sexual Misconduct Policy to
be more proactive in preventing
incidents and improving training
for residential advisers and Uni-

versity Police.
"You don't realize how pow-
erful you are," said Law student
Nikita Mehta. "We are the Uni-
versity of Michigan, and we're the
ones who can make the changes."
Throughout the week, students
were split into small groups to
share their thoughts, and facilita-
tor presented the group's ideas to
the rest of the participants.
Many of the discussions
focused on the success of first-
year programs like Relationship
Remix, which teaches students
skills related to consent, and the
need to host similar classes for
students of all ages.
"We need to continue sexual
assault prevention education
throughout our college careers,"

Ruza said "There was an overall
consensus that we need to do bet-
ter on that."
Students also hoped the Uni-
versity would enact proactive
policies to prevent sexual assault
on campus, rather than only react
when an incident happens.
"A lot of focus is definitely
trying to get the University to
have a sexual misconduct policy
very much geared towards and
focused on the survivor," Abuda-
ram said. "We want to make sure
there is more of a focus on provid-
ing as many resources as possible
to the survivor and making sure
that survivors know what those
resources are, as well as just mak-
ingsure thatinthe endyouendup
with justice."

and procedures of the student's
fieldwork site."
One of the "major offenses"
listed as a violation of this code
is "criminal activity." The term
does not specify whether "activ-
ity" refers pending cases or
charges, decided court cases or
Furthermore, the policy for
removing a student from field
placement appears to be some-
what discretionary. The policy
reads, "The Field Faculty has
ultimate responsibility for
decisions related to the stu-
dent's placement. At any point
in the field placement, the field
instructor or Field Faculty can
request immediate removal of
the student from the fieldwork
site ... should they deem that
continuing the student seri-
ously places at risk the quality
of the services delivered to cli-
ents and/or the reputation of the
fieldwork site."
Roquemore added that she
felt the actions taken by the
Social Work School constituted
institutionalized racism. Tout-
ing this alleged injustice, mem-
bers of BAMN gathered outside
the school Nov. 12 to protest
what they said was Roquemore's
wrongful suspension from field
The group, along with Roque-
more herself, carried signs and
chanted a number of slogans,
including, "This racist school has
got to pay, Ta-Kara has shown
the way." Some signs compared
her case to that of former MVichi-
gan kicker Brendan Gibbons,
who was also a Social Work
student, seeking to parallel the
treatment of a white student
accused of sexual assault to her
situation and asking whether
both students were evaluated by
the same standards.
Elizabeth H. Voshel, associate
clinical professor of social work
and director of field instruction,
said in a phone interview that she
could not comment on Roque-
more's case, adding that "We (at
the School of Social Work) immi-
nently strive to help all our stu-
dents be successful."
University spokesman Rick
Fitzgerald said he was aware of
Wednesday's protest but, like
Voshel, could not comment on
"an individual situation," nor
could he speak to the meetings
that Roquemore said she had
with administrators from the
Social Work School.
Fitzgerald did, however, con-
firm in an e-mail thatRoquemore
is still an "active U-M graduate
student," adding that "the staff at
Social Work very much want to
work with her."
Roquemore's pending case
pertains to an incident the night
before Thanksgiving of last year.
Roquemore was at her mother's
Ypsilanti home with a friend,
Dalia Kenbar, when a social
worker from Children's Protec-
tive Services and a couple of
police officers knocked on the
The social worker, Roquemore
said, had an ex parte, a court
order that allows for government
officials to take custody of a child
if a judge is shown that "serious
harm will occur if an order is not

entered before the other party
has the opportunity to respond,"
according to the Michigan legis-
lature's website.
Roquemore said she was
reluctant to let the worker and
accompanying police officers
into the house, because the ex
parte order was written for Ken-
bar's address, not Roquemore's
mother's house. Regardless,
Roquemore said, she was confi-
dent that her friend's child was
not in imminent danger. She
said the police then forced them-
selves into her mother's home,
and she claims the police aggres-
sively pushed her around before

ultimately taking her friend's
Bob Wheaton, acting manager
of communications for the state's
Department of Human Services,
said in an e-mail interview that
CPS does, at times, remove chil-
dren from a home other than the
parent's home: "If we didn't do
that, parents could avoid court
This can be done only after
CPS "substantiates abuse or
neglect," he said, finding that
"removal is the best course of
action." At this point, only once
the local court grants a petition
to do so can action be carried out.
Wheaton added that he could
not speculate about the applica-
tion of these rules to the case of
Roquemore's friend.
Roquemore also noted that
CPS had taken away one of her
friend's children before, but said
Kenbar's circumstances were
quite different in the previous
"The police feellike I obstruct-
ed justice that nightcby getting in
the way of the door (and) telling
them that they weren't going to
take my friend's baby," she said.
"I wanted to protect my friend's
baby. They had no real basis for
being there that night."
Although she was arrested,
Roquemore said, she was not
charged at the time. Days later,
on Dec. 2, Detroit's ABC affili-
ate broadcasted a story about
the incident. In the segment,
Kenbar's attorney said CPS
failed to investigate and evaluate
Kenbar's living situation before
seizing custody of her infant.
Furthermore, the CPS investi-
gator said in court that nothing
appeared to be wrong with the
home when Kenbar's child was
Only six months after the
fact, Roquemore said, did police
charge her with obstruction
of justice and resisting arrest,
which sparked the suspension of
her field work and has led to sub-
sequent outcry from Roquemore
and BAMN.
Jose Alvarenga, a BAMN
national organizer who helped
organize the Nov. 12 protest, said
the organization became aware
of Roquemore's story at a BAMN
tribunal session held last semes-
ter to address racism on campus.
"It's not justified at all to con-
demn her as a criminal before
she even had a single day in court
to present her case," Alvaren-
ga said. "(The School of Social
Work) is doing to her the com-
plete opposite of what a school
that stands for social justice
should be doing."
In addition to mobilizing the
protest, Alvarenga and other
local members of BAMN encour-
aged students to "pack the court-
room" to support Roquemore at
her first hearing Nov. 18, which
took place in the Washtenaw
County Courthouse at 415 W.
Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti.
There, one of BAMN's lawyers,
Shanta Driver, represented
Roquemore also said Driver
will represent her if the Univer-
sity does not allow her to com-
plete her internship, although
she did not provide a timeline

for this potential litigation. Kate
Stenvig, another BAMN national
organizer who said she works
closely with Driver, echoed this
"She should've graduated
already ... (the University is) say-
ing, 'Oh we're willing to work
with you,' but they're sending
those e-mails to calm down
the situation and make it seem
like they're offering her back
her internship," Stenzig said.
"But they're not, they're saying,
'We're not going to work with
you on this until all your court
hearings are over.' That's the

From Page 1A
"It's interesting in that exam-
ple that that sort of thing isn't
feminine, but yet as you get older
women are expected to know self-
defense," Partlan said.
All of the attendees at the table
pointed to middle school as a time
in their lives when they felt that
they had to conform to traditional
female standards of beauty and
"I hate pink, I've always hated
pink, and for some reason in mid-
dle school I wore pink," said Pub-
lic Policy junior Becca Manery. "I
straightened my hair, and it was
then and didn't do before then."
"Everyone is going through
some big changes, and everyone's
so sensitive to how everyone else
perceives them, and I feel like it
was a time when even if people
weren't saying anything to me, I
was perceiving what other people
were doing and I was copying
Attendees described how in
elementary school the competi-
tion they experienced was often
between boys and girls to prove
their superiority over the other
gender. But after middle school,
the girls saidthat they feltthe most
competition with other girls. Sev-
eral discussed the name-calling
and shamingthat occurred in their
high schools.
"We're all products of our social
environments," said alum Col-
leen Smythe, addressing her high
school experience. "Just the idea
that you pick this 'right' way to be
a woman and shame everyone else
who supposedly isn't that."
Other women described an
internal struggle between doing
stereotypically feminine things,
such as wearing makeup and dress-
ing up, while still being against
Several attendees also noted
feeling that they need to look good
for boys while maintaining femi-
nist ideals. A fundamental question
of the discussion was whether they
were spending time on make-up
and outfits because they wanted
to or because they felt it was a
"Are they doing it because of
gender norms or are they doing it
becausethey wantto?" Maner said.
"They should be able to do what
they want to do, and I shouldn't
have any power in judging them
for it, whatever their motive is, but
it's hard to distinguish even for


From Page 1A
tion of Monday night's meeting.
Seto said Michigan State Police
will conduct an investigation to
look into the issue further.
"My priority as your Chief of.
Police must be to ensure a com-
plete and unbiased investigatiof
is conducted," Seto said. "This is
essential to maintain the com-
munity's confidence and trust."
Atthe Ann Arbor City Council
meeting Monday, councilmem-
bers discussed how to improve
the transparency after alterca-
tions and encounters between
police officers and citizens.
Councilmember Sumi Kaila-
sapathy (D-Ward 1), the coun-
cil liaison to the city's Human
Rights Commission, expressed
the Commission's concerns to
the Council Monday night.
"While they are patient about
waiting to hear what the Michi-
gan State Police has in terms
of collecting additional infor-
mation, they do want a policy
discussion and evaluation," Kai-
lasapathy said.
Councilmember Jack Eaton
(D-Ward 4) said he supported
the Human Rights Commission's
take on the issue and for Coun-
cil to review police procedures.
The Human Rights Commis-
sion was established in 1957 to
oversee civil and human rights

for Ann Arbor citizens. The nine
members of the commission are
elected by the Council.
"We need to use this incident
as a reason to review our poli-
cies," Eaton said.
According to Ann Arbor
Mayor Christopher Taylor, after
the Michigan State Police estab-
lishes the facts, the case will go
to the Washtenaw County Pros-
ecutor's officetobe"reviewed,
which is the standard procedure
for a police shooting.
"It ensures that the deceased,
the officers and the community
have a painstaking, independent
and professional consideration
of the events," Taylor said.
In response to several public
comments regarding the shoot-
ing, Taylor thanked the public
Monday night for its commit-
ment to finding out the details of
the shooting.
"Ann Arborites are commit-
ted to seeing a fair and thorough
investigation completed," Taylor
Councilmember Stephen
Kunselman (D-Ward 3) said he
would like to see the results of
the investigation before the pub-
lic passes judgment on the inci-
dent, though he recognizes the
public's interest in them.
"I, as an elected official, will
not kowtow to those kind of
demands that treat our police
officers as if they did something
wrong first," Kunselman said.


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