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August 04, 1989 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1989-08-04

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The Michigan Daily

Page 5

No more rape
By Sharon P. Holland
It was the winter of my junior along with other similar statements.
year in college when I first witnessed But, their most insulting, degrading
what rape could really do to a sur- and racially specific statements were
vivor, to a friend and to a commu- reserved for the women of color on
nity. On my campus we were prepar- the march. For us, there was special
ing for a Take Back the Night March treatment like, "Go get raped you
-- it would be my first time organiz- nigger bitch" as well as "you espe-
ing as well as attending any woman- cially asked for it, didn't you, you
centered event on campus. whore."
That night we walked a route When I left my former University,
through campus and stopped for a the Women's Center there was de-
moment of silence at sites where manding a rape crisis counsellor and
sexual assaults had occurred. We a centralized grievance procedure for
were prepared for about 5 such stops sexual harassment cases. It was also
along the route. What happened was in the process of advocating for a
astonishing - over 25 women woman who was sexually assaulted
stopped our silent demonstration to in one of the "Clubs" - ironically,
speak about their own experiences of the same one which turned away a
sexual assault. This couldn't have woman who had just been assaulted
been easy for women attending such on the street. When I arrived at
a small Ivy League institution which Michigan, I found that the same
often showed little respect for its problems existed here that I faced at
women - outnumbered 5 to 1 by my old University. I eventually
men - who were actively recruited found the Sexual Assault Prevention
for private parties such as the "rape and Awareness Center (SAPAC) and
and pillage night" held by the cam- became a counsellor on its 24-hour
pus "Eating Clubs." crisis line.
During our four-hour march in I know I will never forget what
the rain I also heard about a woman happened to me and other women of
who was assaulted in front of one of color on that street in late April of
the above "Clubs." When she 1986. I work on the SAPAC crisis
escaped from her assailant, she line because I think the presence of
knocked on the first door she came women of color is important in any
to; when a man opened the door, she woman-centered organization if it
asked for help and he said, "do you challenges notions of white femi-
really think that you'd be safer in nism and expands the working
here than out there." He shut the agenda. I also work on the line, be-
door. cause I want other women of color
That night empowered me tremen- to know that I am there.
dously as a woman. As a woman of Most importantly, I am there be-
color, it saddened me a great deal. I cause of my own personal experience
knew several women of color who with rape culture -- I was in a batter-
had been assaulted but did not feel ing relationship for some time and
empowered to speak, did not feel have survived. If I can do nothing
empowered to move from the protec- else with that experience, I can at
tive shadows of the crowd. The rea- least take what I once thought was a
son for this reticence became all too weakness and make it into a
clear at the end of the March. strength. That's why I'm on the
When we neared what students line.
there called "Club" row, the men on
the street were ready for us. They had Sharon Holland is a graduate student
been sitting outside drinking and par- in the English Department and a
tying for four hours. They yelled, member of SAPAC's 24 hour crisis
"Go get raped" at the marchers, line.
Please call 763-5865 for information about
volunteering on the Crisis Line or other
SAPAC services. If you need information or
crisis intervention, please call 936-3333.
Trained phone counsellors are available to
assist survivors, their friends and family


Activist goes
to jail
Anyone who chooses to go to jail
owes the community an explanation.
Today I begin serving a 10-day sen-
tence in the county jail, a result of
my recent conviction on charges of
disturbing the peace at the Duderstadt
inauguration last fall and my subse-
quent refusal to participate in a de-
ferred sentencing program. This pro-
gram - which consists of paying a
fine and doing community service -
admittedly sounds far more palatable
than incarceration. However, the cir-
cumstances surrounding both my
conviction and sentencing made it
impossible for me to accept this
penalty. For me, at this particular
moment, taking a position of peace-
ful non-compliance serves as an act
of resistance.
Much of the University commu-
nity remembers me as the Daily
writer who was beaten by the Ann
Arbor police during the inaugural
demonstration, and then arrested six
days later on charges of assault and
battery and disturbing the peace.
Perhaps understandably, the irony of
my criminal charges (I was finally
acquitted of the assault and battery
charge) overshadowed the issues that
I originally hoped to publicize.
These issues are still relevant. As
an academic scientist, I oppose the

militarization of the University
through research contracts with the
Department of Defense and President
Duderstadt's support for and partici-
pation in such research. As a teacher,
I oppose rules that limit the political
expression of my own students and
are enforced by the creation of cam-
pus deputies. As I face the sober re-
ality of going to jail, I am reminded
again of these original issues. I hope
that my brief absence from the
community will refresh everyone's
collective memory: scientific re-
search that maims and kills, non-
democratic decision-making by unac-
countable administrators, and in-
creased campus police power are still
issues worth fighting.
The circumstances of my trial be-
came for me another potent reason
for taking a position of non-compli-
ance. A confidential written memo
obtained by my attorney documents
that Ann Arbor police officers are
instructed to arrest anyone they in-
jure. This evidence was declared
inadmissible by the judge. The jury
was not allowed to see editorials I
had authored critical of the police and
University security. Even my origi-
nal attorney was not allowed to tes-
tify. I can no more respect the deci-
sions that come out of such judicial
process than I can respect the deci-
sion-making that erected Duderstadt
as our supreme governor in the first
Finally, I am unable to contribute

either money or labor to a system
that supports itself by prosecuting
the poor and the underclass of our
community. I saw people hauled
away to jail who were the sole fi-
nancial contributors to their fami-
lies. This same court then ordered
me to work 72 involuntary hours for
a city which cannot even provide ad-
equate jobs and housing for its own
citizens. Such a sentence invalidates
my concept of service.
For me at this moment, the bot-
tom line is that I will not be intimi-
dated by the specter of jail into ac-
cepting a penalty which forces me to
contribute money or labor to a sys-
tem that victimizes so many of us.
Going to jail is my way of just say-
ing no. Undoubtedly, many people
will disagree with this position. I
would welcome responses from both
supporters and detractors.
And Mr. Duderstadt, I haven't
heard a word from you all year: I
managed to finish my dissertation
during the week of my trial -
maybe I have the credentials to talk
to you now. Why don't you drop me
a line in jail?
- Sandra Steingraber
Washtenaw County Jail
July 31, 1989

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