Community tells IU that Jacobs ‘time is up’ for not following up on sexual misconduct policies

Editor’s note: This story includes mention of sexual assault.

A group of students dressed in black armed themselves with umbrellas and hand-drawn signs.

They endured falling temperatures and pouring rain outside the East Studio Building to protest along with more than 150 other students and community members demanding a change in their institution’s policies.

Members of the crowd held up posters with messages such as: “Jacobs time it”, “Hold the predators accountable” and “Follow the politicians”. Drivers of passing cars on Eagleson Avenue slowed down, rolled down their windows and shouted their support.

Members of the Jacobs School of Music and the Bloomington community expressed disdain and anger Saturday night over the university’s handling of the student’s sexual assault allegations, investigation and sanctions in music current Chris Parker and the effect it has left on the wider music community.

Crowds of protesters listen to Jacobs School of Music graduate student and B’Town Jazz secretary Kyle Brooks speak April 2, 2022, outside the East Studio Building of Jacobs School of Music. “It is our absolute responsibility down to the individual level to be a force for positivity, growth and inclusion within our own walls, Brooks said.

Ethan Moore

The protest was spurred by the findings of an Indiana Daily Student survey. Parker was found to have been allowed to return as a student twice after violating his suspension restraining order given after he was found guilty of sexual assault in 2016. Now he remains a student , who completed her senior recital on March 29, and will complete her degree at the prestigious music school after 6 years and two suspensions.

During the protest, a letter from Shailey Ostlund was read aloud to the crowd. Ostlund was the woman who reported Parker to the university, which resulted in a Title IX investigation that found him responsible for her assault.

Related: [Dissonance in due process]

The university treated her case with little respect, she said, and her actions, or lack thereof, allowed an alleged “known abuser” to return to the community. The survivors’ silence and lack of response is unacceptable from the university, Ostlund said.

“I never thought that people would fight with me, or that when I left my community, I would have people ready to stand by my side,” Ostlund wrote. “I’m so lucky to have been wrong.”

Abby Malala, organizer and IU alumnus, briefly studied in the Jazz Studies program with Parker. While at the department, she said she herself was abused by another student. She said it was the way Parker was celebrated in the community that made her decide not to report her own abuser to the university.

“Because their endorsement of Parker and the culture in which he thrived made me fear that if I talked about abuse, no one would believe me,” Malala said. “Even if they believed me, they wouldn’t care enough to do anything about it.”

Especially in the music school culture, she said it was difficult for survivors like her to continue to pursue their music, which they considered their passion, without trauma. All the while, Malala said she, like other survivors, watched their attackers cheer and move on with their lives without repercussions for delaying others.

Former IU student Abby Malala hugs Jacobs School of Music sophomore Cristina Sarrico after Malala finished reading her speech to the crowd on April 2, 2022, outside the music school’s East Studio Building . “Rarely, ever, do any of us get cured in isolation,” Malala said. “Healing is an act of communion. I feel immensely grateful to witness and participate in this act of community healing on the path to justice. Editor’s note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student.

Ethan Moore

“Why do the attackers have the second, third or hundredth chance that the survivors never have? ” she asked.

Jacobs sophomore Cristina Sarrico said she struggled with the way the university and its professors treated her when she was sexually assaulted by another Jacobs student. Through this experience, she said her passion and identity for music had become something terrifying and dangerous.

Related: [Community ‘not surprised’ by lack of IU public response after misconduct investigation]

“At the IU and Jacobs administrations, we need to take the issue of sexual violence in our communities seriously,” Sarrico said. “It’s prolific, and unfortunately my experience is not unique.”

She said it was incredibly difficult to find resources and make accommodations for her situation. In class, she asked for different seating arrangements, personal boundaries with touch and trigger warnings. When trying to find help, she said she was forced to tell her story over and over, sometimes in excruciating detail.

She wants more done on the side of the university. Sarrico said that includes hiring more staff to both support survivors and work on Title IX investigations, increase education for faculty about sexual assault, and generally facilitate conversations with community members. to find a solution to this widespread problem.

“If they don’t know the answers to everything, that’s okay,” Sarrico said. “It’s no excuse not knowing what to do and doing nothing.”

Related: [‘We need to change the culture’: Music community plans Saturday protest to condemn sexual violence]

Shatter the Silence representative Shibani Mody asks why the university continues to protect perpetrators of sexual assault. She said the IU administration was not doing enough and not caring to do so in the face of rising sexual assaults on campus.

“We deserve to feel empowered on campus and that’s the only thing you should be focusing on is protecting students,” she said.

Shatter the Silence representative Shibani Mody addresses the crowd of protesters on April 2, 2022, outside the East Studio Building at Jacobs School of Music. Mody called on the university to better protect its students from sexual assault and provide better resources to help survivors. “I’m so proud that we all got together here,” Mody said. “We will protect ourselves no matter what.”

Ethan Moore

Kyle Brooks, a Jacobs graduate student and secretary of B’Town Jazz, said Parker continues to have special opportunities to further his education. After the publication of the IDS investigation, multiple sources claim that Parker decided to study off-campus for the remainder of his semester.

By not ending his in-person attendance, Brooks said Parker was cleared to skate per the requirements of all Jacobs students. He said it sets an example that students who are found guilty of sexual misconduct can still graduate doing less than those who show up to class trying to earn a passing grade.

Brooks said people should call out those who are stepping into a dangerous culture where sexual violence is not treated seriously. Not enough has been done at IU, he said, to address this issue to limit the threat of potential sexual abusers being allowed into the music school community. A problem he called a cancer that smoldered within the walls.

“When you benefit from an art form like jazz, which grew out of the legacy of black resistance, if you choose to withdraw from the conversation about oppression, then you are part of the problem.”

Editor’s note: Abby Malala previously worked for the Indiana Daily Student.

A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has been sexually harassed or abused.

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