Indiana Daily Student

Community tells IU, Jacobs ‘time’s up’ for lack of follow through on sexual misconduct policies

"Why do abusers get the second, third, hundredth chances that survivors are never afforded?"

<p>IU alumna Abby Malala speaks to the crowd of demonstrators April 2, 2022, in front of the Jacobs School of Music’s East Studio Building. Malala helped organize the Saturday protest to demand the university takes more action to protect victims of sexual assault. <em>Editor&#x27;s note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student.</em></p>

IU alumna Abby Malala speaks to the crowd of demonstrators April 2, 2022, in front of the Jacobs School of Music’s East Studio Building. Malala helped organize the Saturday protest to demand the university takes more action to protect victims of sexual assault. Editor's note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student.

Editor's Note: This story includes mention of sexual assault.

A group of students dressed in all black armed themselves with umbrellas and hand drawn signs.

They bore the dropping temperatures and drizzling rain outside the East Studio Building to protest with more than 150 other students and community members who are demanding change in their institution's policies. 

Those in the crowd held up posters with messages like: "Jacobs times up," "hold predators accountable" and "follow through on policies." Drivers of cars passing by on Eagleson Avenue slowed down, rolled down their windows and hollered in support. 

Members of the Jacobs School of Music and Bloomington community voiced their disdain and anger Saturday night regarding how the university dealt with current music student Chris Parker's sexual assault allegations, investigation and sanctions and the effect it has left on the greater music community. 

The crowd of demonstrators listen to Kyle Brooks, a Jacobs School of Music graduate student and the secretary of B'Town Jazz, speak April 2, 2022, in front of the Jacobs School of Music’s East Studio Building. “It is our absolute responsibility down to the individual level to be a force for positivity, growth and inclusion within our own walls,” Brooks said. Ethan Moore

The protest was spurred by the findings of an Indiana Daily Student investigation. Parker was found to have been allowed back as a student twice after violating the no-trespass order of his suspension given after he was found responsible for sexual assault in 2016. Now, he remains a student, who completed his senior recital March 29, and will finish his degree at the prestigious music school after 6 years and two suspensions. 

During the protest, a letter from Shailey Ostlund was read aloud to the crowd. Ostlund was the woman who reported Parker to the university, which resulted in a Title IX investigation that found him responsible for her assault.

Related: [Dissonance in due process]

The university treated her case with little respect, she said, and its actions, or lack thereof, allowed an alleged "known abuser" back into the community. The silencing of survivors as well as the lack of response is unacceptable on the university's part, Ostlund said.

"I never thought people would fight with me, or that by the time I left my community, I would have people willing to stand by my side," Ostlund wrote. "I am so lucky that I was wrong."

Organizer and IU alumna Abby Malala briefly studied in the jazz studies program with Parker. During her time in the department, she said she was abused herself by another student. She said it was the way Parker was celebrated in the community that made her decide to not report her own abuser to the university. 

"Because their endorsement of Parker and the culture he thrived in filled me with the fear that if I spoke out about being abused, no one would believe me," Malala said. "Even if they did believe me, they wouldn't really care enough to do anything about it."

Especially in the music school's culture, she said it is difficult for survivors like herself to continue to pursue their music, what they considered their passion, without trauma. All the while, Malala said she, like other survivors, watch their abusers applauded and continue their lives without repercussions for stunting another's.

IU alumna Abby Malala hugs Jacobs School of Music sophomore Cristina Sarrico after Malala finished reading her speech to the crowd April 2, 2022, in front of the music school’s East Studio Building. “Rarely, ever, are any of us healed in isolation,” Malala said. “Healing is an act of communion. I feel immensely grateful to witness and partake in this act of communal healing on the path toward justice.” Editor's note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student. Ethan Moore

"Why do abusers get the second, third, hundredth chances that survivors are never afforded?" she asked.

Jacobs sophomore Cristina Sarrico said she struggled with how the university and her professors treated her when she was sexually assaulted by another Jacobs student. Through this experience, she said her passion and identity in music had become something that felt terrifying and unsafe. 

Related: [Community ‘not surprised’ by lack of IU public response after misconduct investigation]

"To IU and Jacobs administrations, we need to take the issue of sexual violence in our communities seriously," Sarrico said. "It's prolific, and unfortunately, my experience is not unique."

She said it was incredibly difficult to find resources and have informal accommodations made for her situation. In classes, she asked for different seating arrangements, personal boundaries with touching and trigger warnings. When she was trying to find help, she said she was forced to tell her story over and over, sometimes in excruciating detail. 

She wants more to be done on the university's end. Sarrico said this includes hiring more staff to both support survivors and work through Title IX investigations, increasing faculty sexual assault education and generally facilitating conversations with those in the community to find a solution to this prevalent problem.

"If they don't know the answers to everything, that's okay," Sarrico said. "It's not an excuse of not knowing what to do to not do anything."

Related: ['We need to change the culture': Music community plans Saturday protest to condemn sexual violence]

Shatter the Silence representative Shibani Mody asks why the university continues to protect perpetrators of sexual assault. She said IU administration is not doing enough and doesn't care to do so when addressing the rise of sexual assaults on campus. 

"We deserve to feel empowered on campus and that's the only thing that you should be focused on is protecting students," she said.

Shatter the Silence representative Shibani Mody speaks to the crowd of demonstrators April 2, 2022, in front of the Jacobs School of Music’s East Studio Building. Mody called for the university to better protect its students from sexual assualt and provide better resources for assisting survivors. “I'm so proud that we have all of us here together,” Mody said. “We're gonna protect each other no matter what.” Ethan Moore

Kyle Brooks, a Jacobs graduate student and B'Town Jazz secretary, said Parker continues to be served special opportunities to continue his education. After the IDS investigation was published, multiple sources say Parker supposedly decided to study off campus for the remainder of his semester. 

Through not completing his in-person attendance, Brooks said Parker is being allowed to skate by requirements for all Jacobs students. He said this sets the example that students who are found responsible for sexual misconduct can still graduate by doing less than those who show up to class attempting to just achieve a passing grade. 

Brooks said people should call out those who are progressing a dangerous culture where sexual violence is not treated seriously. Not enough has been done at IU, he said, to strike down this issue to limit the threat of possible sexual abusers being allowed within the music school community. A problem he called a cancer festering in the walls.

"When you benefit from an art form like jazz, which was born out of the legacy of black resistance, if you choose to opt out of the conversation of oppression, then you are part of the problem."

Editor's note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student.

A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.

Like what you're reading?

Get more award-winning content delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our Daily Rundown.

Signup today!
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 Indiana Daily Student