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Call to Action: Join the 'Chain Letter' to President Machen Telling Him We Will Not Accept Rape Culture

In late August just one day before the recent string of campus sexual assaults began, a UF student reached out to President Machen by email, asking about sexual violence and victim advocacy policies and programs at the University. 

The letter was inspired by The Other Freshman 15, a national organization that seeks to empower young people to take up the dialogue around campus rape culture.  They provide a base letter for students to reach out to their campus leaders.  Some of the exact text included, “Thanks in advance for your focus on this issue. I'm eager to hear any updates from you on these actions or other plans you may have to create a campus of respect.”  

His full response was:

“Sexual assault is a very serious issue.  It is too serious to be contaminated with chain letters like yours.  If you really care, do your homework and learn what we are already doing.”

This response sent one day before the attacks is a real representation of attitudes surrounding rape culture at the top of the chain.  A day later we found ourselves bombarded with concern and misguided victim-blaming, and more recently we've been offered escorts comprised of men who some of us already fear.  The public statements have changed drastically since the all the media attention has started, but a day before his annoyance at being asked about these issues is apparent. 

Here's another thing - if this student was unaware of existing programs after multiple semesters at the institution - are you really doing an effective job promoting these programs? We’thinks not.

We are also highly disappointed with the response from the Gainesville Sun which further demeaned the student and her efforts. They released an article that was obviously intended to give the University a pat on the back and further shame this student.  The article listed these stats in defense of campus policies:

Last year’s student survey showed that 4 percent of the 2,200 students who responded said they were sexually touched against their will, while 2.1 percent said someone attempted to force them to have sex against their will, and 1.1 percent said they were raped.

Let's look at these stats a different way using reports that UF has approximately 50,000 students, and assuming these survey's are representative of the student body.

2,200 Sample
88 students that have been sexually touched against their will
44 students who faced attempted sexual assault
22 students who were raped

When we account for the student population the stats change to:
2,000 students that have been sexually touched against their will
1,050 students who faced attempted sexual assault
550 students who were raped - more than one a day

If we go by national statistics that up to 60% of rapes are never reported - we can only imagine how much this number would increase. This doesn't sound quite as nice as 1.1% does it?

But back to the original point.... Contaminate? Chain Letter?  Well President Machen, you (and society at large) have inspired us into showing you just how a chain letter can escalate into avalanche mode.  This is all about a bigger picture of rape culture and the dismissal of young women who attempt to use their voices.  We can no longer allow flippant and condescending comments from our "leaders" when we speak out.

So feminists and friends -  here's where we ask you to share this post with 5, 10, 50, 100 of your friends and encourage them to write letters as well.

We will not be shamed for actions of our aggressors, we will not be bullied by administrative suits, and we will not be silenced into simply accepting rape culture.  What we will do is create the infrastructure necessary to protect our own and join our voices until policies have no option but to change.

Here's what you need to do right now to help! We cannot stress the RIGHT NOW part enough!

  • Write a letter to the President and other administrators - we'll take care of the printing and stamp cost you can come to the store and write it, email us, or facebook us.  Send your letters to Wild Iris so we can coordinate the mail delivery to be an unmistakable visual representation of our displeasure. If you are comfortable include your name and address, if not sign it Anonymous and make sure it still gets to us. (info-at-wildirisbooks-dot-com)
  • We need donors to help make this work, if you'd like to contribute stamps, papers, envelopes, money for ink, sample text for people to use - contact us here!
  • Send an email with the same letter, you can find UF contact information here.

Now is the time. 
Please share through every social media network you know.

If you or someone you know needs help, love, support, or anything else...
Start here, you'll be in good caring hands with Alachua County Victims Services.

Local Author Shira Glassman Book SIgning and Labor Rights Discussion - 9/17

"Labor Rights? In My Fantasy Lit?"

"It's More Likely Than You'd Think!"

Wednesday, 9/17, 7:30 PM at the CMC: local author and Wild Iris groupie Shira Glassman introduces her latest book, Climbing the Date Palm.


Inspired by the Alachua County Wage Theft Task Force and her own spouse's union organizing, Date Palm is a fairy tale about worker's rights and wage theft, with plenty of queer characters (and a dragon.)

She will be accompanied by speakers from the Wage Theft Task Force itself, to talk about the movement that inspired the story.

About Climbing the Date Palm

The highly anticpated second novel from local author Shira Glassman is now available for pre-order. Copies will be released late July. We also have The Second Mango available if you're new to the series.

Prince Kaveh, the youngest son of the king of the City of Red Clay, is bisexual, and is completely besotted with Farzin, the engineer his father hired to oversee the improvements to the city's roads and bridges. However, the king doesn't share his positive feelings. After Farzin ends up at the head of the protest that ensues when the workers are only paid a third of their promised wages, he's thrown in prison and is scheduled to be executed.

Queen Shulamit, who rules over the neighboring nation of Perach, is eager to assist the desperate prince. She, too, loves justice and has a same-sex partner. She's also hoping Kaveh, with his royal blood, is willing to give her and her sweetheart a legitimate heir in exchange. But can she find a peaceful solution that will pacify the king next door, get his workers fairly paid, and free Farzin, or will she and her dragon-riding bodyguard Rivka have to go to war?

Alachua Co. Black History Task Force - Town Hall Mtg - Oct 26th

Alachua County Black History Task Force Town Hall Meeting
October 26th, Downtown Library, 4th Floor, 2-4pm

In the early nineties a Florida law was passed requiring that school curriculum incorporate “teachings about the history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition and the contributions of African Americans to society.”  Today less than 10 of Florida’s 67 counties are compliant, and Alachua County is not meeting the standards. (The feminist within us cannot help but mention that the “contributions of women” are also included in this law.)  Local activists have worked for over a decade on attempts to broaden the scope and celebration of African American history in our public schools with little permanent change. 

Let us be clear that the end goal of the ACBHTF centers around the practice of INFUSION.  We are not interested in anything less than people of color being represented, acknowledged and celebrated through all curriculum.  Supporting a handful of mainstream black heroes during the month of February is not enough, curriculum addendums are not enough, elective choices are not enough.  Only infusion is enough.  The Task Force is also strongly committed to an infrastructure that trains and monitors compliance of school staff and administration.  On a deeper level our passion tells us that we can create a shift in thinking, opening up the hearts of our educators and helping them release internalized biases that tell them that black children cannot learn and are not worth the teaching.

Please join us in October when we will host a town hall meeting to educate around our mission and organize the future steps of the task force.  This will also be our chance to visually show the administration the community force behind this initiative.  We need your support and we hope that you will share this event and bring your friends.  We will create the strategy so that our community can transform the fabric of our school systems, not because it is the law but because it is the right thing to do.  We hope you will stand with us.



Town Hall Meeting, October 26th, 2-4pm
Downtown Public Library, 401 E University Ave

Wild Iris Books - New Hours - Tues-Fri from 1-7pm, Sat 12-6pm - Starting 9/9

We're cutting back a little for fall hours!  And it's the season of fall tabling where we'll be visiting campus to spread the feminist love so we may be in and out during normal business hours!  Feel free to give us a call if you're worried about us not being there!

Wild Iris Books | 22 SE 5th Ave, Behind CMC
Tuesday thru Friday, 1pm - 7pm
Saturday, 12pm - 6pm

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