Incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) have to be viewed within our particular context. Alaska has the highest per capita rate of domestic violence in America. Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault per capita in the nation. Fairbanks is ranked as the third most dangerous city for women in America. Our university has just spent what must be an exorbitant fee to defend sexual harassment as free speech. The university attempted to completely shut down the Women’s Center two years ago, and although community resistance stopped a complete shut-down, now the university is quietly planning again to downsize staff and space. Last week, a young woman sponsored a Consent is Sexy table at several venues on campus. She reports that when she set up the table at one of the residence halls, several men made rape jokes.
As upsetting as these incidents and facts are, another event at UAF provides a horrifying lens through which sexual harassment and other incidents of sexual violence at our university must be understood. In 1993, a young woman was raped and murdered at UAF, and her killer is still at large. Her name was Sophie Sergie. Her body was discovered in a shower in the same dorm where the men made rape jokes last week.
The crime is still unsolved. Read about Sophie’s murder case here: http://www.uafjournalism.com/extreme/index.php/sophie-sergie-murder/46-investigatorrevisitssophie-sergiemurderrder-of-sophiesophie-sergiemurder
Never forget Sophie Sergie. Never stop the work of dismantling patriarchy. Don’t turn your heads away from the horror, but instead, speak up and speak out.