N.C.A&T students lead peaceful march to end sexual violence


Jaida Palanque

Gold squad cheerleaders, survivors and supporters sit in solidarity during the Women and Men basketball games.

Elaijah Gibbs-Jones, theYARD Editor

The Gold cheer squad, known survivor and other students organized a “peaceful protest” against sexual violence at Monday’s basketball games.

Due to a sexual assault allegation made by a Blue squad cheerleader, the squad has been forced to sit out two consecutive basketball games, including the one on Monday.

“We wanted to bring awareness to the campus and get the attention of administrators and faculty, so they could know the current culture at A&T is not where students feel comfortable about speaking up,” said Bria Bridges, senior international business management student and organizer.

“We want to give them pressure about these cases rather them brushing it under the carpet and doing public relations stuff to look good in the media,” Bridges said.

On Thursday, N.C.A&T athletics department announced the benching of the squad for Saturday and Monday’s basketball games.

Brian Holloway, the Associate Athletics Director, sent the following statement to WFMY 2 News.

The North Carolina A&T cheer program will enter a period of reduced cheerleading activity effective immediately through Feb. 19, 2019, North Carolina A&T Director of Athletics Earl M. Hilton III announced on Thursday.

The reduced activity will include the cheer program not performing during home men’s and women’s basketball games against Delaware State on Saturday, February 9 and Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday, February 11. It also includes no cheerleading practices.

North Carolina A&T Athletics’ primary concern continues to be the health and safety of our student-athletes. We hope the reduction in cheering activity will allow time for us to focus on the student welfare of our cheer program while also allowing our cheerleaders to focus on academics and other aspects of student life at North Carolina A&T.

The alleged sexual assault victim released a letter including the misconduct of Blue and Gold marching band drum major and cheerleading coaches on several social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook over a week ago.

While this is an ongoing investigation, the student says she will not cheer again if the coaching staff is not changed.

During the silent protest, the cheer squads and other students dressed in all black and sat where the Blue and Gold squads would normally perform in the stands.

The A&T Register’s policy has been to not identify victims of sexual crimes. In this case, however, the victim has gone public.

“This is not meant to be like a March on Washington type of protest, but it is a start. This is to gain exposure, not only for me, but for everybody else,” said Raina Gee, freshman marketing student.

The N.C.A&T crime and fire log does not currently have a report on file for the rape incident.

The Greensboro police department received a report from the university in fall 2018 and opened the investigation on Nov. 16, 2018.

The protesters had possible outcomes to stem from the movement.

“We really would like for Administration to acknowledge we have voiced our opinions on this topic, and we want them to put plans in motion that are going to eradicate gender-based violence instances on campus,” said Love Caesar, junior history and political science student.

“Maybe even opening a center on campus with a doctor that specializes in this field, who can attend to students 24/7 and not just 9am-5pm that already exist. We want to really expand the treatment that we give to sexual assault survivors and victims,” Caesar said.