The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Love March Calls for Changes to University Protocol, Faculty

 Students gathered in Marillac Hall Monday to demonstrate and read a list of demands.
TORCH PHOTO/CELELIA GERMAIN
Students gathered in Marillac Hall Monday to demonstrate and read a list of demands.

A group of about 50 students marched through campus on Monday afternoon calling for changes to the Title IX process. They said the demonstration was sparked by how the University handled an alleged incident of a sexual nature involving a transgender student.

The student in the case spoke at the protest about her experience; the Torch is not identifying her or the specifics of her allegations because she has not spoken directly with the newspaper as of Tuesday night.

The “Love March,” an annual event, was promoted by several student groups such as Spectrum, Latin American Student Organization and the Pan-African Student Coalition. It started in the D’Angelo Center before moving to Marillac Hall and then Newman Hall, where President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and other administrators have offices.

In addition to seeking reforms to the Title IX complaint process, the group of students also distributed lists of demands on Spectrum letterhead, including gender-neutral bathrooms in buildings “based on the precedent set by the Inclusivity Resource Center.” Spectrum is the student organization representing gender and sexual minorities on campus.

In a social media post, Spectrum wrote, “One of our own, a trans woman who was sexually victimized, has not seen justice even after her title 9 hearing… Title 9 must be centered around and driven by the victim or replaced by a different process if it cannot be reformed.”

Students who were approached by a Torch reporter at the march declined to speak on the record. Those who participated in the march first occupied the staircase in the middle of the D’Angelo Center. Some held posters advocating for transgender rights while others applauded.

Atemkeng Tazi, president of Student Government Inc., said that she will comment on the march on Wednesday after speaking with her executive board.

As the group moved to the food court area in Marillac Hall, they chanted “trans’ rights are human rights.” Once in the building, the list of demands was expanded upon. Reforms that were read off included changes to the counseling center to hire counselors specifically for victims of sexual assault as well as an LGBTQ+ student services department.

The department, it was listed in the written outline of demands, would be for “promoting a supportive campus environment for the gender and sexual minority community.”

University spokesperson Brian Browne, when asked for comment on demands such as gender-neutral bathrooms, said, “The University has not had an opportunity to review and evaluate the issues raised by students who joined in the demonstration.”

When the march reached Newman Hall, students attempted to enter the administrative building, but were unable to because the doors were locked. A public safety officer stood inside.

When asked about the locked doors, Browne said, “For the safety of students and the campus community, the University has adopted several safety protocols for these situations. In addition, while the University embraces the right of students to engage in protest activities, under University policies and procedures, students may not engage in protest activities that are disruptive to the learning or work environment.”

Despite not being able to get into Newman to hand the demands to Gempesaw and General Counsel Joseph Oliva, groups split up to walk to the University Center and Bent Hall in an effort to hand the forms out to other administrators.

At Newman, chants to have Title IX Deputy Coordinator Jackie Lochrie removed from her position broke out.

“Fire Jackie Lochrie,” the students said in protest.

When asked about those chants, Browne said, “Ms. Lochrie is a valued member of the University community who has worked closely with students throughout her career assisting them in receiving the proper support services. She has a demonstrated record of being a strong advocate for students in cases involving claims covered under Title IX and uses her expertise and knowledge of Title IX requirements to ensure fair and equitable treatment of students.”

After gathering at Newman, many students headed to the new Inclusivity Resource Center, where a safe space was provided for students who wanted to share personal stories. The IRC officially opened last month.

Other reforms mentioned by Spectrum asked for housing accommodations for “transgender and non-binary students to dorm in gender-affirming housing” and to “allocate funds to [Center for Counseling and Consultation] and make necessary policy changes, space expansions, and staff expansions and raises.”

Browne added that students who are in need of support can speak confidentially to a Campus Support Advisor at (718) 990-8484 or The Center for Counseling and Consultation at (718) 990-6384.  

Non-confidential reports can be made by calling the Title IX Coordinator at (718) 990-2660 or [email protected] or through Public Safety at (718) 990-5252.  

More information about resources and filing a report are at www.stjohns.edu/sexual assault.

 

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