Episode 73: Confronting Campus Rape Culture with Chris Belcher, Stephanie Renée Payne, & Jordan Broberg

Content Warning: Discussion of sexual and domestic violence, please listen with care.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual and/or domestic violence/abuse, you can find support through: RAINN & RSVP (for USC community). More resources available here.

In Episode 73, Dan is joined by Writing Program faculty Chris Belcher & Stephanie Renee Payne, USC alum Jordan Broberg, and two current USC students to talk about rape culture at USC and beyond. This episode is in response to an email sent out to the USC community on October 20th, 2021 about drugging, sexual assault, and rapes occurring at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.

Chris Belcher is a writer and professor. She completed a PhD in English at the University of Southern California, where she now teaches Gender and Sexuality Studies and in the Writing Program. Under her working name, Natalie West, she edited the acclaimed anthology We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival. Her memoir, Pretty Baby, will be published by Simon & Schuster’s Avid Reader Press in July 2022 and is available to pre-order here.

Jordan Broberg is an American actor, director, poet and playwright. Her primary concentration is in the theatre, but she has crossed all mediums and has enjoyed every minute doing it. Broberg is a 2019 magna cum laude graduate of the USC School of Dramatic Arts and she thoroughly enjoys the exploration of off-kilter, vibrant and unparalleled ways to tell stories. From stage-managing Off-Broadway, to finessing her way to production assisting for Aaron Sorkin, Broberg has worn every hat. She is a SAG-Eligible actress and a proud member of Includiance, a new production division of Schmengie Inc. that has partnered with GLAAD to increase the representation of LGBTQIA+ in commercial spaces. She has just released her first book titled, “I Forgot My Parachute This Time – A Collection of Poetry In Three Acts,” which can be purchased online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers. Please visit iforgotmyparachutethistime.com for more information. Her theatrical/film work is located at jordanbroberg.com.

Stephanie Renée Payne teaches writing in both the freshman and advanced writing seminars at the University of Southern California. Payne’s special topics include experiential and collaborative learning using the city of Los Angeles as an extended campus in her Food & Culture course in the Advanced Writing seminar. Payne’s aim in collaborative and experiential learning is to foster within her students a consideration of the self, the intersection of self with the other, and the self and the other within multiple environments to produce thoughtful, rich, and probing writing that is relevant in a 21st-century context. Payne writes non-fiction and fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and commercial print publications. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

This episode was recorded on November 4th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

Texts & People Mentioned in the Episode

“Thinking about […] the years and years and years of silence around the Tyndall events and the even just month of silence that failed to protect students from Sigma Nu, this sort of time lapse between when they knew that reports had been made and then when they alerted students through DPS—as problematic as that was […] that seems to me that nothing has changed.”
–Chris Belcher

“I think that as a female on a college campus even before all of this has come out was already terrifying enough.”
–USC Student

“I don’t know how this is gonna sound, but just how I feel is that the institution of USC is very much, ‘Don’t get raped’ as opposed to ‘Don’t rape.’”
–Jordan Broberg

“Why would you put the burden on the staff to take care of the students’ trauma […] instead of putting the burden on the perpetrators or putting the burden on the system?”
–USC Student

“The University is constantly looking for individual responses to systemic problems.”
–Chris Belcher

“What was really interesting to me is [how Greek life] depersonalizes the criminal acts, which is what they are, they’re not even acts of misconduct, they’re criminal actions, so I was curious about the house being fined rather than the individual or individuals involved.”
–Stephanie Renée Payne

“Maybe this is just from my experience, but I feel like reporting it, speaking it, acknowledging it is a way, at least for me, of finding freedom […] but when an institution doesn’t hold individuals accountable what that to me is saying is your freedom doesn’t matter.” –Jordan Broberg

“I did talk a little bit with some of my friends that are way more involved with fraternities and sororities than I am and hearing about the rushing process and the bidding process, and how these institutions try to make it seem very [inclusive], but in reality it’s really hard for BIPOC or people from low-income backgrounds to join these organizations.”
–USC Student

“For rape culture to change, people have to be afraid to rape, people have to be afraid to be associated with rapists.” –Chris Belcher

“It’s because of these stupid institutions and stupid systems that exist, especially in the United States, that cause a lot of females, and not even just females, just most sexual assault survivors to silence themselves in the fear of being stepped on by the patriarchy, because anyone under the patriarchy is in the wrong.”
–USC Student

“Are we educat[ing] our boys the way we educate our girls […] It’s about ‘girls be careful,’ but it’s not about how we should tell the people in fraternities and sororities they should start acting like a human
–USC Student

“I didn’t receive the email [about the assaults at Sigma Nu] as I am an alumni, but if I were to receive an email that talked about making sure what I wear isn’t provocative, I would bet my life that there is no dress code for modesty when it comes to any of the events that Greek life profits off of.”
–Jordan Broberg

“As a college student and a woman, I feel like my weekend activities should not be limited because of the actions of criminals.”
–USC Student

“What my students have brought to me is that they feel, especially my sorority students, that fraternity men are the most educated on campus, that they absolutely understand the parameters of their actions, that they absolutely understand standards that are put forth. However, what students have brought to me is that there are no consequences whatsoever. One of my students said you can get kicked out [of USC] for plagiarism easier than [for] raping someone.”
–Stephanie Renée Payne.  

“I think the point of race and protectionism and wealth and the culture of white male dominance is very much entrenched not just in the Greek system, but on our campus.”
–Stephanie Renée Payne

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