Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

De Anza College student reportedly raped on campus


Stacie Rowe, left, president of the De Anza Associated Student Body, and Karla Xo Navarro, discussed the reported sexual assault of a fellow student on campus during a November 8 meeting. (Photo: Jo-Lynn Otto)
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Students at De Anza College in Cupertino were shocked when they received an email from campus police last week informing them of a reported on-campus rape of a fellow student.

The 19-year-old female student, who identified as pansexual or transgender, according to multiple media reports, reported the rape to a faculty member November 6 at 11:30 a.m., according to KTVU News.

The incident reportedly occurred November 4 in the women's bathroom of the Media and Learning Center in broad daylight while classes were in session between 1 and 2 p.m.

Officials told the news station that the victim was taken to the health services office where personnel contacted campus police.

Media reports said that a suspect, who has not been arrested, was apparently an acquaintance of the victim.

Marisa Spatafore, director of marketing, communications, and development at De Anza College, was unable to confirm the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity or speak about the incident due to it being under investigation by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office, she told the Bay Area Reporter in an email.

The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime as the victim is considered a member of the LGBT community, according to media reports and Stacie Rowe, a 19-year-old lesbian who is the student body president at De Anza College.

Rowe spoke with Deputy Kurtis Stenderup, the sheriff's media relations contact, Friday morning, she said.

Reached Tuesday, November 12, Stenderup would only confirm that the incident occurred November 4 and was reported to campus police two days later. He would not confirm the victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, or age.

This is the first time a rape has happened on the community college campus in more than 30 years, said Joe Mauss, records specialist at the De Anza College Campus Police Department.

A miniature replica of bigger universities like Stanford, the campus of about 22,000 students is quiet and casual. Trees throughout the campus and a sculpted fountain hide its proximity to Highway 85.

Mauss described the college as "boring as the norm."

De Anza students on campus before the holiday weekend were still in shock over the incident.

This was the first incident of an alleged hate crime on campus that Rowe has heard of, she told the B.A.R.

De Anza College has an aggressive anti-rape policy as well as a hate crime policy. There haven't been any reported hate crimes on campus since 2010, according to the college's 2013 security report.

Black "Safety Zone" stickers with pink inverted triangles are posted all over the student union building and around campus. The Rainbow Club's signs are prominently posted around the center. The school is actively adding LGBT studies to its curriculum, Spatafore said.

That doesn't mean that homophobia isn't lurking on campus.

"I've heard many homophobic comments on campus," said student Cassandra Brockett, 36.

Brockett's main concern was the victim.

"I was really hoping the person on the receiving end was okay," said Brockett.

Professor Julie Lewis, who is one of the advisers to the Rainbow Club, said the reported incident was a reminder that more needs to be done.

"In terms of an LGBT community at De Anza, we, just as most institutions of higher learning, try to provide support to all of our students no matter their identity," said Lewis, who identifies as a queer woman of color. "The alleged assault is a tragic reminder that we still have lots of work ahead of us in the fight for social justice."

The assault was the topic of discussion at the weekly Rainbow Club meeting on November 7, said Brockett.

The discussion at the club was around safety and protecting each other, Brockett said, but the LGBT students were also resolved not to be scared.

At least three of the eight executive committee members of the Associated Student Body identify as LGBT and they, along with their colleagues, are taking the reported sexual assault seriously.

It was the top item on the executive committee's afternoon agenda Friday, November 8.

"I've been a mess ever since I found out about it," Benjamin Pacho, chair of Student Rights and Services, said during the meeting. "I was 50 feet away in class. I'm pretty destroyed by that, especially since it's an LGBT issue."

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