Boone Area NOW activists organized demonstrations on the Appalachian State University campus in response to a series of rapes. The demonstrations and continued pressure from NOW and other women's rights activists ultimately forced positive changes on the campus.
In 1995, a student described being dissuaded by university police from filing rape charges against a football player. According to sheriff's reports, another student was raped last October by three males in woods beside an off-campus fraternity house. Another student reported being raped off-campus in November, and in mid-January of this year, another gang rape was reported -- this time on campus in a dorm for athletes.
Protests centered on the ineffective response by university officials to the need for increased security and on an unsympathetic response from ASU Chancellor Francis Borkowski to the incidents.
When Borkowski was president of the University of South Florida, he was severely criticized for his handling of an alleged rape by a basketball player who was not suspended from the team until five additional charges of sexual assault were made against him. Borkowski characterized the first incident as a "lover's quarrel" and as a result was forced to leave USF. Boone Area NOW's first action was last October and drew more than 500 people for a march and speak-out against rape. After this protest, Borkowski responded in a public speech: "If you are not in control of your life through indulgence in alcohol and drugs, then you are setting yourself up [for rape]." NOW activists were outraged by Borkowski's comments and decided to turn up the heat.
The following month, the chapter held another demonstration on the steps of the administration building. Activists presented a list of grievances and demands while administrators hid behind locked doors. Media coverage of the protests increased pressure on university officials to respond.
Thanks to NOW's continued pressure, the university community is taking positive action, including: rape awareness trainings for all current students and for incoming and transferring students; creation of a campus security committee; meetings between the campus NOW activists and professional security consultants; additional emergency telephones and lighting on campus; and university police supervision of an escort system with extended hours of operation.
Campus NOW activists are working on a proposal for a university women's center and a victims' advocacy program.
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