Our volunteers do amazing things to impact many different communities outside of the great work they do here at FVPC. Meredith Nisbet, one of our Hotline Advocates and a student at UNC, was spurred to action following the re-enrollment of two football players at Appalachian State University after they were convicted of raping two female students. Two additional football players and another student were convicted of lesser crimes associated with the rapes and were reinstated immediately. Meredith, along with another UNC student, Rosemary Johnson, and two students at ASU, Kaylynn Prough and Annie Hegar, created an online petition through Change.org and began the campaign to support the survivors on their quest for justice and force Appalachian State’s administration to address this issue.
The details of the incidents can be found on the petition’s webpage. During the Spring 2011 semester, four Appalachian State football players and an additional friend raped a young woman in succession. Two of the students were charged with rape. During the Fall 2011 semester, two of those five men forcibly raped yet another female student. When the two survivors came forward to report the crimes, they were “treated as heretics”. Following cases in the student court, two players were found guilty of rape and sentenced to eight semesters suspension. However, despite this sanction, they were reinstated in time for next year’s football season. The other three students were found guilty of lesser charges and received no serious consequences. The two survivors were not notified that their perpetrators were re-enrolled in school and back on campus, leaving them unguarded.
Meredith believes that “there seems to be a lot of victim-blaming occurring, perpetuating a rape culture in which people tend to question the victims rather than the perpetrators – rape and sexual assault are…crimes in which the victim becomes the accused, and it’s simply not fair.”
The petition states that “Reinstating a student found guilty of rape to the football team, failing to notify the victims of their perpetrators’ presence on campus, and failing to notify the student body of these occurrences only perpetuates rape culture and creates an environment that is unsafe for students. How many other ‘unspecified university issue(s)’ have we allowed to pass with no semblance of justice to be seen? How many more will we allow?”
The petition currently has 839 signatures, but more are needed in order to send a message to ASU’s administration and campus community. If you would like to support this campaign, the Change.org petition can be found here. After you sign the petition, there is an option to share the link on Facebook. You can also e-mail the link to friends and family members. If you support this campaign, please consider signing the petition and spreading the word so that the members of the Appalachian State University community can become aware of the details of these cases and the administration can address their decisions regarding the handling of the cases and the punishments. It is important that ASU and other college campuses learn of these cases and the issues surrounding them so that a message can be sent that the mistreatment of sexual assault cases is not fair and will not be tolerated.