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EUR student draws up petition to have her assaulter suspended

IBCoM student Cece Dao wants the university to suspend her attacker. The male student is…

Dao was seated on a rug under a blanket featuring the words ‘Shhh, she’s sleeping’, referring to the moment she says she was sexually assaulted: while sleeping in the home of the alleged attacker.

The site of her protest was not chosen at random: she was there on Thursday because the individual suspected of assaulting her was attending a lecture in the building at the same time. “I wanted to send him a message that he’s not going to get away with it. That he has to accept the truth and stop lying about it”, Dao told EM. Next to her makeshift bed, Dao had placed a box filled with hearts. The idea was for passers-by to take a heart from the box and place it on the bed, representing someone they know personally who is a victim of sexual violence. “One female employee told me that in her case, she would need the whole box of hearts.” During her protest, the accused student was removed from the lecture hall by campus security, says Dao, and then escorted out of the Sanders Building through a back exit.

Banned from campus

Her International Bachelor of Communication and Media (IBCoM) programme had previously made arrangements where the accused student would not be on campus on the same days as Dao, so they would avoid running into each other. But Dao wants him banned from campus completely, and if possible, she wants the assault noted on his degree certificate. “If you plagiarise it’s also noted on your degree certificate, so why not do the same for sexual assault?” she says, explaining her reasoning.

She has submitted a complaint requesting the university to issue a complete campus ban. This case is now being heard by the university’s Complaints Committee on Sexual Harassment, Aggression, Violence, Bullying or Discrimination. Dao is unhappy with the way the Committee has handled the matter. “After submitting my complaint I didn’t hear anything for a week. Then I was told that the hearing would take place within two working days and that it would be conducted in Dutch.” According to Dao, who hails from Vietnam, she was also told that the university was unable to arrange an interpreter for her. “So I immediately started looking for another student who could help me. Once I was finally able to find someone, the Committee told me just before the hearing that it had been able to find an interpreter after all.”

University denies

The university denies this state of affairs. According to spokesperson Jacco Neleman, Dao was informed ‘several days before the hearing’ that there would be an interpreter. “The complaint was handled very quickly by the Executive Board and the SIAG Committee after it was submitted. During the process, the student in question was extensively and regularly informed.”

Ik heb niet het idee dat de commissie het begrip ‘consent’ begrepen heeft

Cece Dao

During the hearing, one of the questions Dao was asked inquired into what she was wearing at the time of the sexual assault. She is furious that such a question was asked. “I believe the committee doesn’t understand what ‘consent’ means.” The university does not want to comment on the content of the session ‘in the interest of everyone involved’.

Dao doesn’t know if the accused has been interviewed yet. “The Committee wouldn’t disclose that information to me.” Dao has also been given contradictory information about whether she will be permitted to examine the report of his hearing. “One employee said yes, another said no.” It was her frustration with the university’s handling of her complaint that led to Dao’s protest in the Sanders Building.

The university informs EM that the hearing with the student has already taken place and that this has also been communicated to Dao.


Hitting the accused student with a full campus ban will only have symbolic value. He is expected to graduate in June, while Dao has been told that the Committee will take at least ten weeks before issuing its ruling. Upon completing his programme, the student will likely return to his home country of Vietnam. In spite of this, Dao feels pursuing her case is not futile. “I want to see justice done and show other victims that the university can do something about it.”