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Members of UGA community seek accountability a year after tweeting reports of sexual assault

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When Erin, Crystal and Veronica opened Twitter last June, their lives froze for nearly 48 hours.

Post after post, scroll after scroll, they saw students and alumni from the University of Georgia share their personal experiences with a subject the three women related to: sexual assault and misconduct.

In less than three days in June 2020, at least 59 reports of sexual misconduct were posted by people in the UGA Twitter community, according to The Red & Black’s records. Of these reports, at least 47 involved assault or rape.


29 alleged perpetrators

were named in the movement, according to The Red & Black's records.


Within the few days of this social media movement, these three women decided they would share their own experiences as well.

“It honestly doesn’t feel real,” Veronica said as she reflected on last summer. “I have these very vivid memories of what … I’ve been calling in my head the aftermath of coming forward. Like sitting in my bedroom, just sweating and panicking and not believing that I did this.”

But this movement would only last two to three days. In that span, at least 29 individuals were accused of sexual assault and misconduct in the UGA Twitter community, according to The Red & Black’s records of the tweets.

The movement started with people at various universities, including UGA, sharing the ages they said they were assaulted. It developed into some individuals sharing their reported experiences. In some of these posts, students and alumni said they were coerced or intoxicated and therefore unable to give consent.

The Red & Black compiled records of the tweets, including posts shared within the UGA Twitter community or retweeted by anonymous accounts associated with the community.

According to these records, at least 50 individuals in the UGA Twitter community shared their reported experiences with sexual assault and misconduct or ages they said they were sexually assaulted. They also shared warnings against alleged perpetrators.

At least one post made by a person in the UGA Twitter community reached over 700 likes and almost 300 retweets.

Eventually, this morphed into some naming their alleged perpetrators on either personal accounts or through anonymous accounts specific to the UGA Twitter community, including posts about being assaulted and harassed by acquaintances, student athletes and members of Greek life.

“It was really just insane to me how many stories that were coming out from different people in the UGA community because really, once again, it isn’t something that people talk about in the open,” Erin said.

Erin said she was looking for a sense of closure and hoped her own post would show others they weren’t alone. Posts like Erin’s helped Veronica come to terms with her own reported experience with assault, which led to her post.

“It was almost a way to tell all my friends without the emotional exhaustion of sitting everybody down and hearing their individual reactions because that’s really exhausting,” Veronica said.

Veronica said she wanted to warn and protect her peers from her alleged perpetrator. Like Erin, she said she wanted to convey the different ways sexual violence can manifest, such as sexual coercion.

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After seeing multiple tweets, including Veronica’s, that mentioned experiences with sexual coercion, Crystal said she began to process her own reported experience with sexual violence.

“Seeing people that you know be so open and honest about what they went through made me feel like, maybe this is time for me to process and share what I went through,” Crystal said.

Along with closure and personal healing, these women also wanted some form of accountability. Veronica called it a moment of “reckoning.”

But against their expectations for the movement, nothing happened. The reckoning they hoped for never took place. The justice they and other participants of the movement called for never came. More than a year later, they’re still waiting.

“It’s sad because I think so many survivors came forward and then when we realized we’re coming forward en masse, we were like, ‘Surely there’s going to be some kind of action, some kind of accountability,’” Veronica said. “But now, there wasn’t. Nothing happened. Nothing happened, like, that is the most shocking and disappointing part of it all.”

Breaking down the movement

The short-lived movement at UGA was not isolated. Multiple university communities across Twitter had their own discussions surrounding sexual assault and misconduct. These were in-part facilitated by anonymous accounts that allowed students to submit their reports and names of their alleged perpetrators.

Student and alumni communities from colleges, such as the University of Michigan and the University of Florida, had anonymous accounts where students could submit their reported experiences.

In Georgia, accounts were created for students at multiple universities including Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University and UGA.

“My first reaction was just like, shock and then relief that these victims had a platform to tell their stories on,” UGA junior Erica Degue said.

As the movement progressed, at least three anonymous accounts were created for the UGA community. The accounts were called @ugasafespace, @uga_safespace and @ugasubmissions.

The first — @ugasafespace — was the most active, where at least one post received at least 278 retweets and 236 likes. However, within just a few days, all three accounts disappeared or became inactive as criticism and legal threats mounted.

While the accounts used UGA’s name in the handles, neither the university nor any of its official organizations ran the accounts or endorsed them.

Black women students and alumni were first to start the movement among the UGA Twitter community last June. This took place during a time when protests for racial justice around the country were led by Black women.

“My first feeling about it [the @ugasafespace account] was a positive feeling,” Caleb Saffo, a UGA class of 2016 alumnus, said. “Black women are the pillar of the Black community and they don’t always receive the same protection they give out.”

One of the main focuses of the protests last summer was violence committed against Black women, as seen with Breonna Taylor. This led to the #SayHerName hashtags online and chants during the protests.

Additionally, during the protests and on social media, Veronica said the conversation surrounding Oluwatoyin Salau, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, also contributed to the dialogue of protecting Black women. Last June, Salau shared on social media her story about being sexually assaulted. Within that same month, she was murdered.

Racism creates additional barriers for survivors when it comes to reporting their assaults. For Black women survivors, reporting comes with numerous concerns as police, hospitals and other authorities have a history of not believing Black women. This creates a huge barrier for trust and reporting.

Kayla Trawick, a UGA class of 2021 alumna, said Black women are stereotypically seen as “strong,” a view that can be damaging when it comes to these women experiencing sexual assault.

“We’re so strong. We can’t be touched,” Trawick said. “And then if we are touched, who do we go to? Who do we go to? Because in a Black community, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be so strong because that’s the only way you can survive.”

Black women survivors whose perpetrators are Black men bear another burden of deciding whether they should report in a system where Black men are abused by authorities. Additionally, because there are so few Black men at UGA, Veronica said some of these women might be afraid to report their perpetrators, especially those who are well known.

The anonymous Twitter accounts helped provide women with an outlet to be heard while also protecting their identities, individuals The Red & Black interviewed said.

“This is a person who is running this page, who was like, ‘No, I’m listening to you. I believe you, Black women of UGA, and I’m going to help tell your stories, and we don’t have to sit here and debate about what proof you have or what evidence. All you have to do is tell me your story, and I will help you get it out there,’” Veronica said.

With the movement on Twitter, Black women created a space to share their reported experiences with sexual assault and misconduct. This space was expanding to other communities at UGA when the @ugasafespace account was taken down leading to a downturn in personal posts in the community as well.

“But if the page is still up today, I feel like it would have been a lot bigger and been kind of centered around all races, instead of just focused in the Black community,” Erica Degue said.

An unsustainable account

The Red & Black notified UGA of this series in November 2020. Reporters provided the university with an opportunity to comment on last summer’s Twitter movement and answer any questions related to this series.

In his response, UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor did not explicitly acknowledge specific allegations on social media from last summer. However, Trevor cautioned “it would be irresponsible to publish as fact any unsubstantiated social media allegation.” The statement also listed resources at UGA for survivors of sexual assault.

Based on The Red & Black’s records of the tweets, reporters submitted records requests for majority of those named during the movement last summer to the UGA Police Department, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office, which handles cases of harassment and discrimination.

The requests to UGAPD and ACCPD included but were not limited to requests for reports involving rape and sexual battery.

Only one police report was found by UGAPD that listed an accused as a suspect, however, since the accused’s name was too common, The Red & Black was unable to determine if the individual in the report was the same as the one accused on Twitter.

The records requested from EOO were for any finding letters from investigations involving any of the accused. EOO produces these letters as a summary when they close an investigation.

For two of the names, UGA said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any records due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). For every other name, UGA said no records were found.

The results of these requests support the national trend of how underreported sexual assault is. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 34% of rape and sexual assault victimizations were reported to the police in 2019. This was the lowest percentage for all violent crimes reported to the police that year.

Erin said that when it comes to reporting, taking to Twitter is a lot less official than reporting to authorities and the consequences that come with that.

“There's just not a lot of cases where the survivor gets the proper reparations for what happened to them,” Erin said

Nevertheless, even Twitter had its limitations. While the movement at UGA took off in a matter of hours, it also came to an end within a couple days for the anonymous accounts. The @ugasafespace account was taken down after at least one accusation was retracted by the account holder who said the post was potentially false. It is unclear whether the account was taken down by the owner or Twitter.

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The account did not appear to have a verification process, which increased the potential for false accusations and threats of libel lawsuits. Alleged perpetrators denied claims made against them. Other individuals on Twitter, some claiming to know the accused, tweeted in support of the alleged perpetrators as well.

Erin said she thought that although it was short-lived, it was still useful in raising awareness of these experiences and helping some individuals like herself receive closure. She said the movement also showed how nuanced sexual assault and misconduct can be.

“There are some permanent psychological consequences to these things,” Veronica said. “These are not one-off unfortunate experiences; these are not like bad dates. These are traumatic experiences that’s scarring these women and these survivors, in general, for life.”

After the accounts boiled over, Crystal deleted the Twitter app from her phone and only checked the platform on her computer. She didn’t download the app again until months later.

“Was the good even sustainable?” Crystal said. “It’s almost as if nothing happened.”


Jacqueline GaNun contributed to fact-checking this series.

Yoganathan is a UGA class of 2020 alumna and served as the Red and Black's Enterprise editor for a year after working on the desk as a reporter. She majored in journalism and philosophy and minored in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Nwogu has worked on the Culture desk and as an enterprise reporter. A UGA alumna, she graduated in May 2021 with a major in journalism, a minor in communication studies and a New Media certificate.

Liang has worked as a reporter, enterprise editor, managing editor and editor in chief. A UGA Honors student, she is a double major in Entertainment Media Studies (Grady) and International Affairs (SPIA), with a Chinese minor and New Media Certificate.

Gabriela Miranda worked as a reporter and campus news editor for The Red & Black from 2019-2021. Before graduating in May 2021, reported on race, protests, health and campus news.