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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student


IU student organizes Welcome Week march as critique of sexual assault policies at University continues


Following social media posts critical of IU's sexual assault policies, as well as posts stating the University violated Title IX while investigating her case, an IU student will no longer work as an RA next school year and has also organized a march and rally to take place during Welcome Week to bring attention to sexual assault on campus.

The student, Ellie Johnson, first tweeted about her case June 25. The post now has more than 2,000 retweets and 5,000 favorites. In the weeks following the initial post, a hashtag, #WeStandWithEllie, was created, along with continued social media posts from Johnson and others with regard to the University's procedures in sexual assault cases.

Some social media posts also featured Johnson naming the panelists involved with her case and their contact and personal information. On July 10, Johnson posted on Twitter she filed a Title IX complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education.  

Two days later, Johnson posted on Facebook and Twitter she had been fired from her RA position at the University.

Chuck Carney, IU director of media relations, said Johnson was not fired "in any way" from her RA position, but instead was offered another on-campus position which was a "change in responsibilities" away from the RA position. 

Carney said the decision was based on statements Johnson made about her ability to fulfill key requirements of the RA role.

Later on July 12, Johnson tweeted screenshots of her own tweets, which she said IU used as grounds for firing her. The tweets included Johnson interacting with incoming IU students and their family members about problems with sexual assault at the University.

Johnson confirmed to the IDS she had been "reassigned" to another on-campus position and had accepted it.

In other tweets posted July 12, Johnson said she was told she was "incapable of performing my duties," with regard to being an RA, but she was incapable "because #IUB isn't giving me the necessary resources to protect my residents." She also said she wasn't given any warnings and was incapable of doing her job because of IU's negligence.

"If there’s one thing I want IU to understand, it’s that there are human lives on the verge of death because of their actions," Johnson said in a Twitter direct message to the Indiana Daily Student. "Mine included. We are devastated. We are scared. We are unable to receive our education when there are sexual predators walking around campus and there is a negligent university standing in the way. Indiana University, time is up. Survivors are calling for action. Immediately."

Johnson said she has filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights for retaliation in relation to losing her RA position.

"We support our students’ ability to speak out and say whatever they want," Carney said. "She has every right to say whatever she wants to say. Free speech is an important part of our campus and should be an important part of every campus. This is just something that we felt like in this particular case would be the best thing to do."

On July 18, Johnson tweeted she would be meeting with Jacqueline Simmons, IU vice president and general counsel, the next day. Then, on July 23, Johnson began to post her takeaways from that meeting on Twitter.

Johnson said the meeting was "a minuscule start," and there was an "extremely long way to go."

Carney also provided a statement regarding the meeting between Johnson and Simmons.

"Our Vice President and General Counsel Jackie Simmons had a very good and productive meeting with Ms. Johnson to hear many of her concerns and answer her questions," Carney wrote in an email to the IDS. "I know that they intend to continue talking in an upcoming meeting."

Also on July 23, Johnson posted plans for a "Shatter The Silence" march and rally on social media.

The event is scheduled to take place Aug. 18, which is the Saturday of Welcome Week. It will start at 5 p.m. with a meet-up at the Office of Student Conduct, before participants will march to President Michael McRobbie's office in Bryan Hall. A rally will then follow in Dunn Meadow.

"Our main goal is to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault on campus and to raise the level of conscientiousness within the community," Johnson said. "Educational programming and peaceful demonstrations will change the way we talk about 'consent.' We encourage IU to do more for their students, and to do more to improve campus safety. We are open and eager to collaborate with university officials whenever they are ready. In the mean time, we will continue the conversation."

The march also has an event page on Facebook, which says those participating will "hand deliver our 'Demand for Action' letters to IU President Michael McRobbie’s office in Bryan Hall at the end of the march."

According to the event page, the rally in Dunn Meadow will feature "a variety of guest speakers as well as voter registration and sign-up tables for the new Women’s Empowerment group on campus."

Just a few hours after the announcement of the event, the IU Student Association released statements on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages pledging support for the event and for survivors of sexual assault on the IU campus.

"On Saturday, August 18, students will gather to march and show their support for survivors of sexual assault on our campus," the statement reads. "As your student government, we are proud to share we will be walking with them. The rules and procedures surrounding the conduct process, especially involving sexual misconduct, are complex and oftentimes misunderstood. We are committed to working with University officials to not only bring a better awareness of these procedures to all students, but also ensure the process works to protect all survivors."

In fall 2017, the IDS published "The System," a four-part series offering an in-depth investigation into IU's system of sexual assault reporting.

This story will be updated.

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