The USC chapter of Young Americans for Freedom set up a table on Trousdale Parkway Wednesday, displaying a poster that read, “It’s a Dangerous Time for Men — Change My Mind.”
The poster spurred a discussion regarding survivors and those accused of sexual assault.
“We’re not denying that it’s not a dangerous time for women either,” YAF chairman Maxwell Brandon said. “If I had a sign up that said ‘It’s a dangerous time for women,’ no one would come argue with me, but if we put a sign up that says ‘It’s a dangerous time for men,’ it’s all of a sudden a very heated political conversation.”
Throughout the day, various students approached the table and attempted to explain why the poster was problematic, saying that women face greater dangers. Over 90 percent of victims of sexual assault are women and only between 2 and 10 percent of sexual assault reports are deemed false, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Brandon, however, said the purpose of the poster was to bring attention to not only how treating the accused as guilty is unreasonable, but also how women must speak out when sexual assaults take place.
“It’s really difficult to come forward and I understand that,” Brandon said. “But if you really want to change, men not only need to man up and start acting like men … Women need to step forward when it happens too.”
One USC student, who wished to remain anonymous due to concerns for her safety, approached the table and explained her own experience with sexual assault and why she didn’t initially report it.
“I didn’t report to the police because I was afraid, mostly because I was afraid of the [perpetrator’s] reputation, because I know he has lots of friends and he has a lot of people that could back him up,” she said. “I did not want to go into a trial in something that I felt I could personally get over myself.”
During the disagreement, the student said that YAF Treasurer Tyler Tornetta was repeatedly interrupting her and yelling at her rather than engaging in a debate.
“I just felt really disrespected. I did go over with a hot head and I could’ve probably approached the situation in a calmer manner, but I was trying to at least explain my story … and he just cut me off immediately,” she said. “[I] just felt like my story didn’t mean anything.”
Tornetta said that along with creating dialogue, the organization wants to elevate conservative voices, especially on a campus that he deems predominantly liberal.
“Whether it’s inviting a speaker here, setting up a table such as this where we’re asking people to come actually talk to us and help to try to at least change our minds or setting up a table just to discuss our club,” Tornetta said. “It’s all for the same purpose, which is to introduce the students of USC to our conservative values and to start a conversation.”
Jason Williams, a second-year doctoral student in physics, criticized YAF and the poster, stating that it was meant to intimidate students.
“I just think it is bullshit, honestly,” Williams said. “I don’t think they are actually here to listen. I think they are just here to intimidate.”
This tabling followed campus controversy regarding sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a student-led petition against professor James Moore, who sent a controversial email response about sexual assault accusers to the Price School of Public Policy.
Brandon said YAF wanted to discuss current issues that people were passionate about and that he believed it was important to bring up men’s rights in sexual assault conversations.
The Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: The headline of this article has been updated for clarity.