Assistant professor and director Joshua Fleming begins production on “The Rape Show” next month using a compilation of theater, literature, prose, poetry and activism infused speeches as a platform to urge us to acknowledge the rise in rape cases in academic institutions.
“I used to be the director of the speech and debate team and last year one of our students Alicia Batice and I worked on a persuasive speech that focused on the problem of sexual assault on campus,” said Fleming. “We were really frustrated on how there were so many allegations of sexual assault on campuses and how the victims were treated in the process like in investigations.”
An example case: Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University alum, was raped her sophomore year in college. During an interview with Time, Sulkowicz said that in one of her hearings “a panelist kept asking [her] how it was physically possible for anal rape to happen.”
Already uncomfortable, Sulkowicz was also forced to use traumatic and unnecessary diagrams to describe her rape. Despite the fact that two other women also accused Sulkowicz’s perpetrator, all of their cases were dismissed.
“Universities are given a lot of autonomy on how they investigate and that’s great that they have their own power to investigate, but why aren’t we just straight up going to the cops instead?” Fleming said. “And so it is the way colleges handle these issues that‘s problematic. I think at this point, when it hits the administrative level, the administrators want to protect the institution first and sweep the issue under the rug.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, after Sulkowicz’s case, many academic institutions like “Harvard, Dartmouth, the University of Michigan and Boston College, are turning to the ‘single investigator’ model.” In other words, only a single outside investigator who has experience with sexual assault crimes would arrive and employ the most fitting punishment if he thinks the perpetrator is guilty, usually resulting in expulsion.
Colleges get reprimanded by losing their funding from the Department of Education if they do not find the perpetrator. It benefits the college to find the accused guilty, so the accused don’t always get a fair trial.
The LA Times calls this new process the “Inspector Javert model, ”after Victor Hugo’s fictional character from “Les Misérables.”
“Fairness, you see, isn’t the point of the Javert model,” according to the article. “It shields a college from liability and bad publicity. It gives a college cover with the Education Department. It handsomely rewards the investigators who make money from it.”
“The Rape Show” will include “active bystander training,” which teaches how to look for signs of potential sexual assault in order to prevent the assault before it happens.
“It is to create a more heightened awareness about sexual assault on college and university campuses,” he said. “Especially since students are transferring to universities and it’s more prevalent, so it’s good to have that awareness going in.”
Fleming is hoping to create active bystander training at PCC.
“I want to work with student services, AS, campus police and the police department in terms with doing training for sexual assault prevention,” said Fleming. “Maybe also our psych services department as well. They would be a resource to go to if someone has suffered a trauma and are still trying to go through life trying to find someone to talk to.”
Actors, poets, activists or just extremely passionate students can help spread awareness for the cause and are encouraged to audition.
Auditions for “The Rape Show” are being held on Feb. 18 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the Feb. 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at room CA 135. The performance is scheduled for April 24 at 5 p.m. and April 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Little theater in room C 106.