UCI Must Investigate Attempted Rape Allegation against Student Regent Jesse Cheng
On November 4, 2010, UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng was arrested for sexual battery. He is still under investigation by the University of California, Irvine for an attempted rape that occurred in October. Mr. Cheng’s arrest was noted in the Irvine Police Department’s arrest log for 2010. Cheng’s victim, Jane Doe, reported the incident to the police in October and to the director of the Office of Student Conduct, Edgar Dormitorio, in November. Unfortunately, it is already February and the case has not progressed. Thus, Jane Doe has reached out to her friends in the university community to assist her with this problem.
There are documents and confessions, by Mr. Cheng himself, proving his guilt. However, the UC system and its political agendas seems to be creating more and more obstacles for Jane Doe to further process her case and receive justice.
Jane Doe is a UC Irvine alumnus, and it important that the university community supports her in this difficult time. The common reaction women receive when reporting assault is disbelief and blame. That is why sexual assaults are hardly ever reported, let alone prosecuted and convicted. Victims are asked questions like, "what were you wearing?" and "what were you doing with him before the assault happened?" The basic assumption is that the woman did something to provoke the assault. This is unfair, no one ever "asks" or deserves to be raped or assaulted.
Women face even more interrogation when the perpetrator is someone they know, particularly if it is a person with power. She is branded as vindictive or gold-digging. This is based on another dominant assumption that only crazy people and perverts commit sexual crimes. That is not the case. Rape culture is everywhere in our society, from movies to music to magazine ads. Rape culture is even seen in the belief that when a woman turns a man down, she is simply "playing hard to get" and "doesn't really mean it when she says no." That cultural norm teaches men in our society that it is OK to keep pursuing a woman who does not want to or is not sure if she wants to engage in sexual activity. The standards of masculinity that promote aggression and dominance are taught through the media and popular culture, and we are all exposed to these influences. Sexual violence is a sadly common form of oppression, and addressing it is a community responsibility.
It is easy to find reasons to protect the men we care about, but we understand that as community leaders the way we live our lives is as important as the work we do. One day those who strive for social justice will win, and if our methods are not just and transparent – then we will not be achieving the world we claim to be striving for. Jesse Cheng is a man like anyone else and is not above the law; he must take accountability for his actions.
We stand by Jane Doe as a victim of sexual violence who, because of patriarchy and sexism, faces doubt and disbelief from her peers and former friends. We hope that Cheng holds true to his commitment to the liberation of all peoples, including Jane Doe’s liberation from a political system that refuses to validate her experiences, and his own liberation from the systems of oppression in which he holds privilege.
We urge Jesse Cheng and the campus community to acknowledge the crime that he has committed. It is our responsibility to hold our leaders to standards of honesty and integrity. We also insist that the University of California, Irvine Office of Student Conduct investigate the allegation against Cheng in a thorough and timely manner. Cheng is scheduled to graduate after the spring semester of 2011, thus we expect to learn the results of the investigation at the earliest possible date. Let us not perpetuate a culture where violence against women is swept under the rug.
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