FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2011
Jollene Levid, AF3IRM National Chairperson
Maureen Ivy Quicho, Executive Director for Mariposa Center for Change
VICTORY: JUSTICE FOR LAYA COALITION FORCES UC STUDENT REGENT JESSE CHENG TO RESIGN!
(May 16) Laya, a UCLA graduate student who was sexually assaulted and battered by University of California Student Regent Jesse Cheng was informed that as of Friday, May 13, 2011, Jesse Cheng had resigned from his post as UC Student Regent on the UC Board of Regents - the highest decision-making body in the University of California system.
Cheng, who had attacked Laya in October of 2010, had proclaimed his innocence, boldly announcing to media outlets, including the OC Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, that he refused to resign because, "That would be an admission of guilt." His recent resignation only confirms what the Justice for Laya Coalition asserted from the beginning: that Cheng was guilty of sexual assault and battery, was not fit to represent over 200,000 UC students on the Board of Regents, and must resign immediately.
The Justice for Laya Coalition, a coalition of individuals, student organizations from every UC campus, community, and women's organizations has fought tirelessly since news of the incident went public this past February 2011. The victory is testament to the efforts of these individuals and organizations, who advocated to the Board of Regents in San Francisco, held protest actions in front of Cheng's office in Irvine, and collected close to 1,000 petition signatures nationwide. "This victory belongs to the women, the students, & organizations: despite threats, and a legal system that allows for victim-blaming, the Justice for Laya Coalition has been able to mobilize, educate, and demand that Laya receive genuine justice," said Jollene Levid, National Chairperson of AF3IRM, lead organization in the Justice for Laya Coalition.
Laya, who has bravely stood her ground through attacks on her persona, being threatened and harassed by Cheng's supporters, responded to the news by saying, "This is a victory for my case, but also for other victims of sexual assault, battery, and rape. We are one step closer for creating a place where women can step forward, demand, and actually receive genuine justice."
The Justice for Laya Coalition applauds Laya and its coalition membership for this victory, but reminds the public that 2 other demands still remain: 1) that Laya receives full legal justice and 2) that Women's Centers be funded in the UC system to avoid future incidents similar to Laya's. "About 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted and 65% of rapes go unreported. In some universities, expulsion of rapists may even be appealed. It's our duty to continue to demand that Women's Centers be fully-funded, so as to provide necessary resources to victims and education to avoid future incidents such as Laya's," said Annalisa Enrile, Board President of the Mariposa Center for Change.
The Justice for Laya Coalition applauds its membership and allies for their work in forcing Jesse Cheng, former UC Student Regent to resign, and ensures that the Coalition will continue to fight until all demands are met.
We are all Laya.