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College Students Scrawl Names of Alleged Rapists on Bathroom Walls

November 28, 1990 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Brown University women are scrawling the names of alleged rapists on the bathroom walls in a guerrilla attempt to get the school to do more about sexual assault among students.

Brown spokesman Robert Reichley called the women ″Magic Marker terrorists″ and said they face expulsion if caught.

Students said the graffiti is aimed at getting the Ivy League school to take stronger action against so-called date and acquaintance rape.

″It’s not an easy thing for a woman to take this action and I don’t think anyone was taking this lightly or doing this vindictively or maliciously,″ said Lisa Billowitz of Brown Against Sexual Assault and Harassment, or BASH.

″It was an act of desperation in an attempt to get Brown to act responsibly and provide us with a system where we can air these grievances publicly as opposed to bathroom walls.″

The list of about 30 names began appearing more than a month ago. It has stirred strong emotions at the 7,000-student school and focused attention on the issue of college men forcing dates or other women they know into having sex.

″It’s a controlling force of conversation,″ said student Stephanie Cooper, 19.

The names are based on allegations from victims or their friends, students said. It was unclear how many of the women, if any, have filed charges. Students said women on campus lack confidence the allegations will be handled effectively.

Court proceedings can take years and a victim could ″be sitting next to her rapist in classes for a few years,″ said Jenn David, 21, a member of the university’s disciplinary council and a founding member of BASH.

Janitors have scrubbed the walls clean, but the names keep reappearing. ″Keep this list going strong - warn others 3/8″ a message on one wall said. Women also write words of support and advice, usually unsigned.

Adam Gillitt, whose name appeared on a wall, wrote the student newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald, proclaiming his innocence.

″Rape is a violent crime that takes away the voices and the choices of the victims. So too do anonymous accusations without factual bases take away the options of the accused,″ he wrote.

One woman told The Providence Journal-Bulletin the list helped her meet with other alleged victims of the same attacker. ″Together, we’re thinking of pressing charges,″ she said. Her name was not given.

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No sexual assault cases have come before the disciplinary council, but it has considered cases of racial and anti-homosexual assaults, and sexual harassment, David said.

She blamed the school’s lack of a written procedure for dealing with rape and said ″the deans were insensitive - blaming the victim″ and steering them away from taking action.

″They had the rapists write a letter of apology to the victim or attend a three-hour alcohol counseling session,″ she said.

Rape statistics at Brown were unavailable. The school began compiling figures last week, officials said.

″We are proud of our efforts but know that they alone cannot correct one of society’s greatest flaws,″ Dean of Student Life John Robinson wrote in the campus paper, while admitting that Brown’s disciplinary system, designed in the 1960s, has become outdated.

A sexual assault task force of students and administrators was formed last summer, but some students accused the school of acting too slowly.

Some also want the school to appoint a dean of women’s concerns, draft a sexual assault policy, improve security and give officials sensitivity training.

The rising militancy has disturbed some on campus.

″I think the idea of a personal catharsis and a woman trying to work through her feelings are perfectly legitimate, but I don’t think a man should be able to be slandered, and that is the crux,″ said Cooper.

Reichley, the university spokesman, said the school has written the men on the list inviting them to file complaints.

″I do not think that accusations of such a serious crime, made anonymously, can be described as anything but striking at the heart of the American judicial system of innocent until proven guilty,″ he said.