Sac State student groups demand transparency in sexual assault case

Students delivered letter with demands to President’s office


Deion Seruelo, left, a student only identified as Alyssa, middle, and a student only identified as Alex, right, lead a group of demonstrators to the office of Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen Thursday. The students from multiple campus organizations delivered a list of demands stemming from what considered an under reported sexual assault at American River Courtyard.

Students from multiple campus organizations gathered in the Library Quad on Thursday for a rally to call for accountability and transparency in the wake of a sexual assault that occurred on campus.

The group of seven students formed in the quad around noon and had a short procession over to President Robert Nelsen’s office in Sacramento Hall. The group intended on delivering a letter that included a list of demands for the school administration directly to Nelsen himself, but according to employees in his office, Nelsen was at the downtown campus when they arrived.

RELATED: Student Sexually Assaulted at American River Courtyard

The letter was penned by Deion Seruelo, a Sac State student and member of the ANSWER Coalition, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The demands in the letter included improved transparency and a public apology as well as disciplinary action to “rectify the campus law enforcement’s laxity.”

The letter also connected this incident to a broader political climate with the multiple sexual assault allegations against President Donald Trump and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

RELATED: #SacStateSays: What is your opinion on the Kavanaugh hearings and the FBI investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct?

“We really need to be holding these people who are allegedly here to protect us accountable,” Seruelo said.

Seruelo said he found out about the sexual assault on Sunday after The State Hornet published a story about the incident. ANSWER also reached out to M.E.Ch.A., Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan and SQE, Students for Quality Education.

“You can imagine the victims are feeling very alienated,” Seruelo said. “With the recent laxity of the campus police, myself and many other student organizations found it essential to create a rallying point here in Sac State.”

One of the demonstrators Darshalle Cardoso, 19, a sociology major, and a member of Mujeres Ayudando la Raza, said that she felt it was important to support women on campus.

“It’s not something we often hear about, but for us women, it is a lot more likely for it to occur to us than men,” Cardoso said. “So I think it’s really important for us to come out and try to support a movement, especially on campus.”

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Brian Blomster, director of news and communication for Sac State, said Nelsen is always open to hear students’ concerns.

“The president always supports the students’ rights to free speech — that’s a given,” Blomster said. “When they chose to air their concerns, he takes that very seriously. They have every right to petition the president, that’s part of a vibrant campus.”

A statement from Blomster also said that Police Chief Mark Iwasa decided to withhold a timely notification about the assault because the suspect had been identified and could be located by law enforcement, so releasing the notification could have compromised the investigation.

Seruelo admitted the turnout was lower then he wanted on account of the impromptu nature of the rally.

“It’s still definitely an important issue,” Seruelo said. “It’s not only an issue that exists here at Sac State, it happens everywhere, it happens in countless universities where they never hold these perpetrators accountable, because they’re trying to save some sort of image of themselves, so of course we’re going to keep continuing to fight.”

If you have had any experience with sexual assault and would like to share your story, consider taking our sexual assault survey. If you are a victim and would like to talk to a campus representative for counseling or for help reporting, Hailey Vincent can be reached at the victim advocate hotline (916) 278-5850 or at [email protected].