University of Memphis students held a protest on campus for a second day on Thursday over reports of an alleged off-campus rape of a female student.
Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal
University of Memphis students held a protest on campus for a second day on Thursday over reports of an alleged off-campus rape of a female student. Next week, school leaders plan to give all students a chance to address sexual assault during an “open conversation” event.
In an email Thursday, the school announced that U of M president David Rudd and other school leaders are hosting a two-hour event from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 18 that will address rape on college campuses and sexual harassment.
The focus of the event will be “ridding our campus of this abhorrent behavior, prevention, and how we can improve our response during active investigations,” according to an email about the event.
The university is holding the town hall meeting after a student said that she was raped twice in 20 days earlier this year in separate off-campus incidents.
Nicholas Wayman, 20, a U of M student, has been charged with rape and sexual battery in one of the incidents. He was indicted Aug. 3 and arrested Aug. 7 on the charges in connection with the alleged rape that occurred some time between March 30 and April 3 at a home in Arlington.
The student newspaper, The Daily Helmsman, published a detailed account about the case on Tuesday, including an interview with the victim in which she describes having to see Wayman on campus.
The article says Wayman is a member of a fraternity and describes a second alleged assault against the woman by a different man associated with the fraternity on April 21.
Wayman’s attorney, Marty McAfee, denied the allegations against his client.
“This case has much more to it than the alleged victim has admitted,” McAfee said in an emailed statement.
McAfee said they went to court Wednesday for an arraignment on the charges and the case was reset for Nov. 15.
The rape allegations have ignited protests and several conversations on campus. On Wednesday and Thursday, a small group of students held protests in front of the school’s University Center. A larger protest is planned Friday.
Standing on a bronze statue of the school’s mascot, Tom the Tiger, several students held signs that read, “Silence is Violence,” “There are rapists on your campus” and “Demand Justice.”
As they stood silently, a group of parents on a tour of the campus looked at the signs and asked reporters what it all meant.
Protester Gypsee McManus, a 20-year-old junior, said she was a friend of the victim and was upset that the suspect is still allowed to attend the university, including having a class in the same building with the victim.
“I feel like he should at least be suspended until proven either way,” McManus said. “We want to really raise awareness about all of this and let other women know that it is OK to speak out. You are not alone.”
U of M President David Rudd issued a statement Wednesday to the student body about the alleged rape and encouraged students with questions to reach out to faculty and staff.
“It is deeply disturbing whenever there are reports of potential criminal behavior that involve and impact our students and our campus,” Rudd said in the statement. “The safety of our students, and all on our campus, is paramount. When reports of potential criminal behavior emerge, the University of Memphis follows a deliberate series of steps to ensure safety, guard confidentiality of all involved, and allow for due process.”
The woman who alleged that she was sexually assaulted could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sexual assault is an ongoing problem at many college campuses. According to one study cited by the Centers for Disease Control, 19 percent of undergraduate women reported that they had experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.
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