Former Fresno State student finds empowerment through #MeToo protest

Protesters march down Cedar Avenue on their way to Fresno State's fraternity row on Monday, August 3, 2020. (Andrea Marin-Contreras/The Collegian)

Updated 11:25 on 8/4/2020

Nearly 100 protesters marched from Shaw Avenue through fraternity row and back Monday with chants of “2, 4, 6, 8, stop the violence, stop the rape,” “no means no” and “drunk consent is no consent,” which were met with honks of solidarity from onlookers and passersby.

Former Fresno State student Xitllali Loya-Alcocer was the organizer of Monday’s #MeToo protest, demanding justice for herself and other people who say they are victims of sexual assault while at Fresno State fraternities.

“I felt powerless about the situation, but now I feel empowered and nervous,” Loya-Alcocer said regarding the #MeToo protest response from Fresno State students and residents of the Fresno area. 

“I do have a chance for justice,” Loya-Alcocer said.

Loya-Alcocer’s story went viral on social media after posting a YouTube video detailing her alleged sexual assault at a Fresno State Kappa Sigma party on Jan. 31. At the time of the alleged assault, Loya-Alcocer was 17 years old.

The protest Monday coincided with a Title IX hearing involving her case against Kappa Sigma, the fraternity where she says the sexual assault took place. 

On March 5, Fresno State placed Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Phi Mu sorority on interim suspension due to the allegations. Upon further review, Phi Mu was reinstated after the university determined that it did not violate university policies.

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro and Dean of Students Carolyn Coon made the decision to suspend Kappa Sigma until Dec. 30, 2020. The university found sufficient evidence of underage drinking of alcohol by a minor, which may have created an environment conducive to sexual misconduct.

Castro said in the final President’s Forum that the fraternity is not allowed to have alcohol on the premises until May 31, 2021.

The Fresno State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was in attendance and reached out to Loya-Alcocer through social media, showing solidarity.

The Fresno State NAACP found out about Monday’s protest through social media. D’Aungillique Jackson, the Fresno State NAACP president, said the organization wanted to support Loya-Alcocer with the platform it has. 

“We decided to be here and show solidarity as a civil rights organization,” Jackson said during the march. 

Fresno State released a statement Monday morning that supported the students’ rights to speak out.

“The University is aware of a planned protest against sexual assault/violence and in support of survivors. We fully support students’ rights to speak out on issues of concern,” Castro said.

“Acts of sexual assault are reprehensible, regardless of location and circumstances; I condemn them vigorously. We take reported assaults very seriously and will continue to do everything in our power to protect and support victims, as evidenced by the following actions in this particular case.”

Despite the statement by Castro, the Fresno State NAACP is working with other students who say their alleged assaults have fallen on deaf ears.

“We are currently working with two other Fresno State students who are dealing with the Title IX office, sexual harassment and assault that has gone unchecked,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the Fresno State NAACP will keep on bringing awareness toward sexual assault and harassment and it is open to collaboration with other organizations.

Loya-Alcocer said she wants Fresno State, and more specifically, Castro, to “show support and be held accountable for what happened to me.” One of her demands is for Castro to write a letter explaining his support toward her case. 

The Fresno State Greek life organizations need to shut down, Loya-Alcocer said.

Loya-Alcocer is hoping to sue Fresno State and the students involved in the assault.

“Students can help survivors by dropping out [of fraternities and sororities], reporting their abusers and being there for survivors,” Loya-Alcocer said. 

Furthermore, she said Castro needs to be fired. “He is not a good president,” Loya-Alcocer said. 

The university statement said, “President Castro’s office has attempted to schedule a meeting with the student who has issued the complaint. However, to date, there has been no response to repeated attempts by President Castro’s office to schedule a meeting.” 

To this, Loya-Alcocer said that she “never reached out to his team but they did send me an email, but at the time, I didn’t see it.” Loya-Alcocer has been vocal through social media and tagged Fresno State and Castro numerous times through her tweets. 

“I just thought him [Castro] knowing about my incidents should be enough to take action. He definitely knew about them since Title IX was conducting an investigation, and I’d tag him on everything,” Loya-Alcocer said.

In August 2019, Loya-Alcocer said she received rape threats through social media from an unidentified Fresno man. 

According to Loya-Alcocer, she reported the threats to the Fresno State Police Department (FSPD).

A spokesperson from Fresno State says that the threats were looked into by the FSPD, but no further investigation took place.

After her experiences at Fresno State, Loya-Alcocer said she didn’t feel confident to seek additional help. 

Loya-Alcocer plans on attending California State University Long Beach in the fall. Although she will be an undeclared major, Loya-Alcocer said she wants to go to law school and help other survivors like her. 

Related resources for survivors:

Confidential survivor’s advocate (559.278.6796) in the Student Health and Counseling Center. The survivor’s advocate can assist and support affected students and also talk through options, including the campus Title IX process. As stated on our Confidential Advocacy Services website for our students, you are NOT alone. You are NEVER to blame. There is help available.

University’s Title IX office (559.278.5357). 

Affected students also have the option of reporting the situation to Fresno State police at 559.278.8400 and/or local police.

*A correction to the initial story can be found here.

Written with a contribution from Anthony De Leon and Zaeem Shaikh

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