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First Person

BU grad Ariana Katz on the school’s response to rape

When sexual assault accusations against two hockey players rocked the Boston University campus, Katz’s student-run group successfully lobbied for the new rape crisis center debuting this fall.

Ariana Katz on the campus of Boston University.

Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe

Ariana Katz on the campus of Boston University.

The Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism at Boston University is an all-student-run women’s center; we operate based on consensus. The incident that made us at the center start thinking about [the school’s response to rape] was the allegations against [BU hockey player] Max Nicastro [which were later dropped]. When the story broke on February 19, I remember talking about it with a friend. Only when we got to the board meeting did I realize it was THE START OF SOMETHING HUGE. We were saying, this wasn’t just a crime involving one person. There is a larger issue.

We mobilized and tried to start the conversation around what we were initially deeming A “RAPE CULTURE.” The number of sexual assaults BU’s police department reports do not reflect people’s actual experiences.

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We decided to start a campaign for a rape crisis center. Counselors at student health services were doing their best, but there weren’t specific resources for people experiencing a crisis regarding intimate violence.

WE STARTED A PETITION ON CHANGE.ORG and got 100 signatures in an hour. In a week we broke 1,000. We ended up writing a 30-page proposal with a 40-page appendix. Six of us stayed until 2 a.m., writing policy and DAYDREAMING ABOUT WHAT THE CENTER COULD DO. We submitted it on April 6 and had a meeting scheduled with the president on April 30. That morning, he e-mailed the entire university that they are opening the [Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center].

Now, it’s not a bunch of ragamuffin students, it’s a BU thing — it’s got a logo. It happened so fast, our heads are still spinning.   

— As told to Melissa Schorr
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