More than 4,300 people have signed an online petition this week from a University of Miami student requesting that the man she said sexually assaulted her be expelled before graduation. Angela Cameron, a junior at the private school in Florida, says her alleged rapist's one-semester suspension wasn't a harsh enough punishment. "I don’t feel safe on campus,” she told the Miami New Times.
Cameron said she was assaulted on April 11, 2014, by a classmate she had been working with on an acting project. They'd previously had a sexual relationship, but Cameron said he took advantage of her after a party that night. She was left with a cracked vertebra, nightmares and panic attacks, according to her Avaaz.org petition, which does not name the man.
She said she reported the charge to the dean of students office, University of Miami Police Department and the South Miami Police Department in the following weeks. Cameron wrote that the police didn't do much -- one officer told her it wasn't rape because she knew the man. After a disciplinary hearing June 24, the dean found him responsible of rape, sexual assault and intimate partner violence. He was suspended for one semester.
Cameron wasn't satisfied. “I looked at my mom after that whole process, and I said, ‘Was this hearing even worth it? Was it even worth it to mentally and physically drag myself through the whole thing? He can come back next semester,'" she told the Miami Hurricane, a college newspaper.
But the idea for the petition didn't come until this week. Cameron spoke about consent at a class event Tuesday, and afterward the professor in charge suggested it. Professor Katharine Westaway told the Hurricane that the system had failed Cameron even though "she did everything right." The accused attacker is scheduled to graduate May 8.
The University of Miami's students rights and responsibilities handbook indicates that expulsion is one of the possible sanctions for sexual violence cases. The school declined to comment further on the situation, instead referring reporters to a news release about its Coalition on Sexual Violence Prevention and Education. The school has a 24-hour anonymous help line and counselors dedicated to helping sexual assault victims, among other resources.
Campus sexual assault has become a hot topic nationwide, and Cameron isn't the first to take matters into her own hands. Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz began carrying a mattress around campus after her alleged assault, and at the University of Chicago women circulated a "rapist list."