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Feb 12th
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Rearranging Rape

news_1UCSC dissolves its 30-year-old Rape Prevention Education center
“As of next school year, Rape Prevention Education as you know it will no longer exist.” This is what UC Santa Cruz administrators told Rape Prevention educator Gillian Greensite last month, explaining a decision to “reorganize” the program.

Greensite was told that, starting in the 2010/2011 school year, Rape Prevention Education would no longer be a separate effort, but would be absorbed into the Student Health Outreach and Promotion program (SHOP), and that she would no longer be a rape educator, but a sexual health educator through SHOP. She promptly retired.


“I have 30 years experience and I don’t intend to stop doing this work, but I can’t stay at an institution where they’ve made this work impossible to do,” says Greensite. The new position would have required her to educate students about Sexually Transmitted Infections and other sexual health issues, which, while extremely important, she says would not have allowed her to exclusively focus on rape prevention and education, which included crisis counseling for victims, workshops, presentations, self-defense classes, peer educator training, research and more.

The administration says that students will be provided with the same resources and services. “The university’s commitment to offering sexual assault prevention, education, and crisis counseling is unwavering,” Alma Sifuentes writes in a statement to Good Times. “In fact, recent restructuring with Rape Prevention Education and the Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP) will enhance and expand services for students and the campus community, and at this point no services are being discontinued.”

Sifuentes cited student and outsider input as the reason for the decision, although she did not specify who was consulted specifically or what their feedback was. “Students and other relevant on- and off-campus stakeholders were consulted in this process as well as a review of national best practices and models for sexual assault prevention programs,” says Sifuentes.

According to Greensite, higher education consulting firm Keeling and Associates did a recent study of the school’s health services and concluded that Rape Prevention Education did not belong in the health center. Jaimie Vargas, director of strategic planning and communication for the Division of Student Affairs, told GT that the administration could not discuss the report.

“The new person will have all the duties of a sexual health educator plus (according to them) all the functions of Rape Prevention Education,” says Greensite. “There are only 40 hours in a week. It doesn’t add up to say that all of the same services will be offered in about half the time.”

Students Speak Out

After hearing the news, Nina Milliken, a Latin American and Latino studies major, immediately launched a Facebook group called the Coalition to Save UCSC Rape Prevention Education, which had 1,245 members as of press time. Milliken worked as a peer educator at the rape prevention center for three years. As a rape survivor herself, she also founded the UCSC Rape Survivor’s Network with the help of Greensite.

She believes that the school’s administration was fearful that parents would not want to send their children to a school with a center wholly focused on rape. “But any campus you send your kids to will have this problem,” she says. “If I were a parent, I’d rather send my son or daughter to a school that has good support for this issue.”

Indeed, college-aged women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted according to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In 2009, the NIJ reported that there are an estimated 35 rapes per 1,000 female college students—which would mean that a school of UCSC’s size could have several hundred rapes per year. However, just as well documented is the statistic that only a miniscule portion of those women will report it. According to UCSC police department crime statistics, two rapes were reported in 2006, and three were reported in 2007 and 2008. This low, but disproportionate, number has presented some roadblocks for Greensite’s center in the past.

“Administrators look at the police statistics and say ‘what’s the problem, why does she keep talking about rape—there were only two last year,’” she says. “Fortunately now, we’ve got research we didn’t have when I started that shows that any university of this size may have up to 300 rapes each year.” While she hopes that UCSC’s number is not nearly that high, she admits it is possible considering that 42 percent of rape victims tell no one and only 5 percent report it (according to Robin Warshaw’s “I Never Call it Rape”).

“Based on my analysis of not only the politics of rape but what those who have been raped feel comfortable with, you need a place that is not part of the police department, not part of the counseling and psychiatric services, not part of the health services, but its own entity,” says Greensite. “That is being lost.”

Milliken is leading the Coalition to Save Rape Prevention Education in a letter-writing campaign to pressure the administration to reverse their action. She is distributing two template letters—one from students to the administration, and one from parents. “From what we can tell,” she says, “the administration fears nothing more than parents.” Spurred by the Facebook group, a team of about 20 dedicated students (with Milliken at the helm) has begun meeting weekly to strategize how best to achieve their goals.

“Our demands are: we want a separate and succinct rape prevention center; we want the word ‘rape’ in the title; we want a full-time employee who is a rape prevention educator, not a health educator, and we want that person working 12 months a year, because it’s not like rape doesn’t happen during summer months; we want a private office from SHOP; and not to be submerged under SHOP or any other health organization on campus,” says Milliken.

While Sifuentes says that all of the same services and resources will be available through SHOP, those fighting for the original program believe that it will discourage rape victims from seeking that help if it is “submerged” within SHOP.

“Rape is not a health issue,” says Milliken. “Rape prevention has no place in a health organization, because rape survivors are not sick.”

However, Vargas, from Student Affairs, says that rape prevention will now be a part of SHOP because of its ties to health issues, like STIs (sexually transmitted infections). “There are health issues related to sexual assault, including but [not] limited to Sexually Transmitted Infections,” says Vargas. “We are launching a more comprehensive sexual education approach, which will focus on building awareness of sexually transmitted infections, and the sexual health educator/crisis counselor position will have the appropriate background to provide timely information to sexual assault victims and help students.”

Feminist Studies professor Bettina Aptheker is one of many faculty members vocally opposing the decision to dissolve Rape Prevention. She echoes Milliken’s concerns. “It is a very unfortunate decision to disband Rape Prevention Education as a coherent unit and disperse it across the campus,” says Aptheker. “Rape is an issue of social and political violence. It is not a health issue.”

She also worries that the services will lack visibility and accessibility in the new arrangement.

“[The center] also provided a safe space for survivors of violence to be able to talk to each other, and to gain deeper insight into the issues and the healing process … The decision to ‘re-arrange’ is not only wrong-headed but is a most regrettable slide backward in creating an appropriate, meaningful, and safe university and learning community,” says Aptheker.

But perhaps most detrimental, says Greensite, is that the word “rape” will no longer appear in the name of a program, service, center, or in an employee’s title.

“For 5,000 years, women have been raped but we haven’t said the name,” she says. “It’s been shrouded in myth, and shame, and invisibility, and indifference. For the last 30 years, we’ve been able to say the name, and one incredible indication is the acceptance of a program called Rape Prevention Education on a university level. I believe keeping the word ‘rape’ visible is a political act of utmost importance and I’m very saddened that all but one other campus [UC Santa Barbara] has gotten rid of the names.”

She continues, “If we can’t even say the name, if we want to bury it under some other euphemism, then that’s a giant step backwards.”

A History of Struggle

What the administrators say is a simple reorganization of services, Greensite fears is an attempt to bury a program that has been fighting to remain open since its inception.

“Since the beginning, it’s been a struggle to have the issue be taken as seriously as it should be taken,” says Greensite. “In the early days, when my counterparts at the other UCs and I started, it wasn’t believed to be a problem on university campuses.”

Rape Prevention Education was founded at UC Berkeley in 1979, fresh on the heels of the women’s and anti-rape movements. That same year, each of the 10 existing UC campuses adopted the program. Over the years, Greensite has watched the disappearance of the centers, even at its birthplace, UC Berkeley.

“I saw it at many other campuses,” she recalls. “Its name would be changed, or it would be submerged into another department, and in many places it was no longer visible. And fast forward, that’s what has happened at UC Santa Cruz.

“But [those attempts] are not new,” she continues. “It’s been marginalized, it hasn’t been supported always, but this is the most aggressive attempt.”

Greensite plans to continue educating on the causes, prevention and complexities of rape, whether through writing, research, or teaching. Whether through the will of Milliken and Co., or faculty opposition, Greensite hopes Rape Prevention Education resurfaces at UC Santa Cruz.

Comments (22)Add Comment
Rape of Gabriela Leon de Oaxaca at UCSC
written by 3rd World Worker, October 07, 2015
In 2009 I turned in a written page reporting Gabrielas rape and murder at UCSC in Sept.2008 to the rape crisis center, it was located at Kresge college. That same week Mental Illth jumped the program and took over, redirecting all rape cases to their headquarters. The Mental illth set Gabriela up the night she got killed and never reported anything since.
written by Robert Norse, August 09, 2010
Gillian and Nina Milliken came on Free Radio yesterday and spent two hours discussing UCSC's decision to downgrade, de-emphasize, and cover over the harsh realities of rape and assault as well as the SCPD's failure and whitewashing.

To hear that show, go to --download and fast forward about 1/3rd of the way into the file.

You can also hear earlier interviews with Gillian by going to and searching for "Greensite".
Gillian on Free Radio Santa Cruz
written by Robert Norse, August 04, 2010
Gillian has been a regular guest on my FRSC shows. Her past interviews can be found by going to the link above and searching for "Greensite". I'm hoping to have her and Nina again on within the next few weeks.
written by Jordyn Hartley, August 02, 2010
As an incoming freshman last year, I attended one of the lectures Gillian gave at the beginning of the year, as we all did. I thought it was a fantastic group, working to eliminate one of the most disgusting acts an individual can commit on another. Over the course of the year I got accustomed to the campus, making friends, joining a frarority, getting used to life in Santa Cruz, and I decided I would join Rape Prevention Education the following year. It was a cause I could believe in, give my full effort to a truly courageous and incredible program run by a woman who had continued to improve it over the course of thirty years. But sadly, the program is changing. Not even just changing, but becoming something diluted, splitting its focus to incorporate issues that merely distract from the issues of rape. STI awareness is a very important issue, which merits its own program, as does rape prevention. Consolidating two extremely important issues only minimizes the effectiveness of both. I fear this restructuring will not only return rape to the shadows, hidden and shunned, but that it will divert from the old model's goal completely, halting the progress that was being made. I thank Gillian for her devotion and courage to fight for what she believed in, regardless of who she had to fight against, and hope our future will bring more pioneers like her who will continue the progress Rape Prevention Education had made and is still making in each of us who fights to continue its goals.

Rape is not afterthought
written by laney, July 31, 2010
I am very disturbed and concerned by UCSC's decision to "reorganize" rape prevention and survivor support for several reasons... let me count the ways...#1. This decision inevitably frames rape as a sexual health concern, when rape is not truly about sex, but rather about power and control. Rape is a tool of shaming, discarding, and degrading women and men--it is incredibly complex means of asserting or reestablishing power; it can serve as a tool of intimidation or a tactic genocide. To frame it as a sex ed issue is misleading and dangerous #2 Rape is disturbingly common-- while stats suggest 1 in 4 women in the U.S are sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime, if you actually get to talking to women, you will find out that the majority of us have experienced some form of sexual assault or rape. #4 Rape and sexual assault continue to go under-reported because of the ongoing blaming, denial, and silencing of victims and the dehumanizing treatment victims who do decide to speak up face in the courtroom. #5. The emotional, psychological and physical consequences of sexual assault and rape are horrific and long-lasting---this very serious matter deserves a comprehensive approach led by experienced, full-time staff. I am very impressed by Ms. Greensite's bravery in standing up for this cause--and the cause of the survivors and the wide web of community that is impacted by the trauma of rape. As a young women, I want my peers to be aware that the rights, structures, and resources our mothers fought so bravely to secure are slipping quietly away by the insidious forces of convenient and 'economical' silencing. maybe the university will save money with this scheme but the emotional, psychological, and physical toll of this decision will be profound.
written by Phil Greensite, July 31, 2010
UCSC bureaucrats earn too much money in my opinion. Get rid of half of them, millions of dollars would be saved, the students wouldn't notice a difference in service. In fact, service would probably be improved because more resources would be available to them.
Thank You Gillian
written by Angelo, July 31, 2010
Hello Gill,
You have done so many wonderful things and fought for so much justice! On top of so many beautiful people you have inspired, what touches me the most is that within the fight you have made for 30 years, you have influenced so many students to fight against that same injustice. You have inspired so many and as I am sad to see you go, I really do believe that you have left a good bunch of students to follow in your footsteps, and I do have faith that UCSC will be in good hands because of these students that you have motivated with all of their own dreams and motivations. All of the work you have done within UCSC will live on, even as you are no longer "affiliated", I have no doubt about that.
To Jennifer W.
written by Tiffany W., July 30, 2010
Needless to say, I'm more than a little disappointed that this perspective is coming from a former student. Connect the dots, Jennifer:

Gill's efforts to keep rape in the public eye are those very same efforts that are being called coercive/uncooperative. Keeping students safe and informed is not uncooperative. Reminding the City Council of downtown rape statistics, despite the Council's persistent efforts to downplay them (in numbers and in headlines), is anything but coercive. Rape Prevention Education is not a glass lemonade that can be diluted to suit every administrator or Council member's tastes; rape exists, and Gill is ahead of the game (and mostly alone) in making sure that we do a damn thing about it. If maintaining both the quality and accessibility of rape prevention resources is "bitterness," like you say, then please feed me another spoonful of it.

Balance, in your perspective, is "compromising" with an administration and a City Council that want rape to be invisible. So, I should settle somewhere visible and invisible? No thanks.

written by Gillian Greensite, July 30, 2010
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have expressed warm good wishes and appreciation. I am deeply moved.

In response to the one hostile comment from Jennifer W., I do not have a history of "coercive tactics" and challenge you to give a specific, detailed example. I do have a history of confronting truth to power and this has led to some bitter feelings from those in power. This includes some members of the city council, police and city commission. I am simply asking that they respond publicly and genuinely to the fact that, except for 2008, the city of Santa Cruz has one of the highest rates of reported rape in California ( 3 times that of Berkeley); our police department has one of the lowest arrest rates in the state and we have a unique situation of a disproportionate rate of rapes committed by strangers ( 60% on average compared to the national rate of 15%). So far, these facts have been been carefully hidden from public scrutiny, perhaps because we are a tourist town, and my efforts marginalized by the sort of attack leveled by Jennifer W. I wish she and others would respond to the message rather than shooting the messenger.

The police, council and commission have formed a solid block of silence in response to my asking for a serious addressing of these issues. Then the usual charge is leveled that I am not a team player etc. I actually work well with most people and my Aussie directness is always respectful, even towards those with whom I disagree.
From South Africa
written by Dr. James Lees, July 30, 2010
I am very disheartened that Rape Prevention Education will close at UCSC. As an educator of teachers throughout sub-Saharan Africa and on the front lines of HIV prevention and response, I regularly refer to the existence of UCSC’s programme as an extraordinarily courageous and responsible model to for any educational institution to strive for. Greensite’s writings are a staple part of my courses. Think of it: Greensite’s publications are being enthusiastically read in teacher training colleges throughout sub-Saharan Africa and are contributing to the reduction of rape and the spread of HIV. UCSC should be awarding her an honorary Ph.D., not closing a programme she has worked tirelessly to build and sustain that they don’t seem to recognize the value or international significance of. Rape is NOT a medical issue and requires far greater understanding and attention than health educators can be expected to give it. UCSC management has just done a disservice to the world. They should hang their heads in shame.
written by Anna Kroepke, July 30, 2010
My best friend was raped while a student at UCSC. As often happens, she was further brutalized when she reported it, by the police, the lawyers and the administration. The only one who treated her with respect and compassion was Gillian Greensite. This is a great and tragic loss for all the young women on campus who will now be even more vulnerable to abuse.
No more raping and pillaging
written by Bill Le Bon, July 30, 2010
We come from a Viking culture that (war)ships rape and pillage. Ending war and rape are related. Popular American culture still glorifies violence. I am amazed at how the Scandinavian countries have made a 180 degree change from their past. They are now some of the most peaceful countries on Earth. In a survey on happiness Denmark ranked #1. (US is way down the list) I wonder what the rape statistics are like in Scandinavia. My guess is they are lower than ours. I think there is something to learn from the Nordic countries on how they went from a culture of violence to a culture of peace. If they could do it, maybe we can too. I'm a peace activist, but now realize I need to be an anti-rape activist as well. I don't do facebook but I would still like to connect and help out. Let me know.
written by Dan Dickmeyer, July 30, 2010
With Gill being "forced" into retirement I question how her bank of knowledge will be transmitted (pun intended) to a brand new "health educator" who has to educated about sexually transmitted diseases.
Santa Cruz Resident & Former UCSC Student
written by Jennifer W., July 29, 2010
smilies/sad.gif Sad that the writer didn't do a bit more research instead of acting the mouthpiece. Greensite has a long, bitter and very public history of coercive tactics to marginalize any/all who do not follow her 'my way or no way' s.o.p. 1-2 simple questions posed to the local committee on violence against women and/or City Council could have provided some balance to the article. Greensite's historical fight to keep rape in the public eye, essential and commendable as that is, lost it's edge as it became clear that she was incapable of working together with peers to address the issue. Too bad. But she has crafted her own demise and irrelevance.
written by Dana Delaney, July 29, 2010
Of course the UCSC administration once again does their dirty work during the summer, so the students aren't around to protest. How do these people sleep at night?
will there even be self-defense clases offerred at UCSC next year?
written by leonie sherman, July 29, 2010
or over thirty years UCS has offered free self-defense classes at UCSC. Gillian Greensite has been a pivotal part of the effort to make education and prevention easily accessible to UCSC students. Now that she has resigned, will classes be offered next year?

I have been teaching the Rape Prevention Education self-defense classes for five years now, and as soon as Gilliant resigned I tried to contact the health center about classes for next year. Nobody hs gotten back to me despite multiple efforts.

I know hundreds if not thousands of students have benefited from these classes over the years and hope they continue to be offered for free through the University.

written by Casey Morgenstern, July 29, 2010
Bless you and thank you, Gillian, for all your years of dedicated service. As much as the administration wished for you to go away, the UCSC community always knew what a valuable service you provided, what a pioneer you were in your field, and how much you truly cared about students who were often treated abominably when they most needed support. Peace and happiness to you in the future.
written by Just another woman, July 29, 2010
"According to a report funded by the Department of Justice, roughly one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates."

"The probe reveals that students found “responsible” for alleged sexual assaults on campuses often face little or no punishment, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down."

Yep, that's the way to address the problem....reorganize, reclass the helpers and bury it....Way to go UCSC....
Shame on UCSC
written by Holly Ansett, July 28, 2010
Shame on UCSC for how they have dealt with this whole issue, starting from recognizing how Gillian has benefited the university and whole area, by directly educating people about something extremely important. Who is to say how many more rapes would have happened in teh area and on the campus if this program had not been in place since 1975.

Shame on UCSC on not recognizing where education on rape fits in, the incredible need, the point of education and why labeling the issue correctly is a real start to be able to address it and how to help.

Shame on UCSC generally for this whole mess and vague replies to the above important questions.
written by Dawn Trelevan, July 28, 2010
I used to be a student at UCSC, and I know that rapes happen far more often than anyone admits. I guess the administration figures if nobody's paying attention, they can pretend it doesn't happen.
written by Melanie Tanner, July 28, 2010
Oh, what a shame! Gillian is all that's kept UCSC from sweeping the rape problem under the rug all these years. Sifuentes, Scott and their accomplices should be ashamed of themselves! As a parent, I would think twice about sending my daughter to a campus that believes the best way to deal with rape is to cover it up.
written by Jennifer Owens, July 28, 2010
The UC administration has been harrassing and trying to get rid of Greensite for years. Sifuentes is a hatchet woman who lies as easily as she draws breath. Another in a long series of sad days for our once-great university.

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