'Queer brown woman' furious leaders of anti-sexual assault group are 'straight, white, cisgender men'

Sumana Palle wrote of her displeasure in The Michigan Daily on Oct. 8. The online version of the article has gotten 1,800 likes on Facebook.

She says the campus has shown her no mercy and now she has "run out of mercy for it."

A senior, self-identified “queer brown woman” at the University of Michigan (UM) is disgusted that the leaders of an anti-sexual assault campaign on campus were “straight, white, cisgender men.”

Sumana Palle’s lengthy editorial excoriating the leaders appeared in The Michigan Daily, UM’s student newspaper, on Oct. 8, and has since earned 1,800 likes on Facebook.

“And as soon as I walked into the room, I realized what a glitch my invitation had been; I felt the all-too-familiar sickening sensation of being one of the very few people of color in the room,” wrote Palle.

“Where was the representation from Coalition of Queer People of Color? The Black Student Union? Anyone from the historically Black, Latin@, Asian and South Asian fraternities and sororities? Did [Central Student Government] not realize that sexual assault happens to people who are not white and straight? To men?”

Palle wrote that despite the promise of a more inclusive campus, “people are sick and tired of being excluded from and forgotten about in policy discussions that impact their living spaces, learning conditions and general safety.”

“To say that the meeting was disheartening is a gross understatement,” she wrote. “Bobby’s [one of the leaders of the campaign] first order of business was to get people talking. Which meant get the straight, white, cisgender men in the room with no ostensible direct connection to the issue talking, throwing around ‘solutions,’ and making assumptions without proper education about the issue,” wrote Palle.

“There was no self-awareness, no thought of assessing their own privilege, and no intention of criticizing their own role in rape culture.”

Palle also tells of how the members of the campaign went to go see a play about rape at a high school. She dismisses the show, which she says was penned by an “incompetent playwright [that] did not lend the play the gravity, nuance or emotion it required.”

“[The play] was one of worst-written, misogynistic, heteronormative, atrocious plays I've seen. There was absolutely no trigger warning yet the naked body of a rape survivor was shown,” wrote Palle. “There was complete disregard for any type of intersectionality; it excluded male survivors, homosexual instances of assault, and had no acknowledgement of racial dynamics.”

Palle concluded her tirade claiming she has “run out of mercy” for the “institution’s structural animosity.”

“I am a queer brown woman and this campus has shown me no mercy; now, I run out of mercy for it. I previously clung onto wisps of optimism when a leader promised some kind of change, half-heartedly nodded when friends assured me that the treatment of this campus’s minorities stemmed from ignorance and not cruelty, dismissed men’s obvious displays of sexism.

“Now, I’m out of justifications for this institution’s structural animosity and its hegemony’s lack of concern for others.”

Bobby Dishell, Central Student Government President and leader of the campaign on UM’s campus, told Campus Reform the group’s efforts were widespread and the option to attend was available to any student.

“The campaign was very widely publicized on our campus. We took to social media to get the word out quickly, and published posts about the campaign on our Facebook page, and Twitter feed,” Dishell told Campus Reform. “ In addition, the campaign effort was covered by our major student newspaper, The Michigan Daily...CSG representatives have also been raising awareness by word of mouth at various high-traffic areas around campus.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO