“I will get you fired if you do not have sex with me.”
This was said to a UC Berkeley student who is due to graduate in 2020. Last month, she medically withdrew from school, seeking intensive therapy and psychiatry for post-traumatic stress syndrome and anxiety for the time she spent working for the football team in their sports medicine squad.
This student, Paige Elizabeth Cornelius, posted publically on Facebook last month about her experience.
Before her first day of work, she was ecstatic. She always loved being in an athletic atmosphere. On her first day, she was being stared at up and down by everyone at practice. Hours after, her Instagram blew up. She received direct creepy messages asking her to come over and inviting her to parties. She expected to get this from the players, which is normalized for students in college.
But who told her they will get her fired if she does not have sex?
She did not expect the ruthless, endless and persistent sexual harassment from coaches.
One coach would stare, wink and ask her to guess what he wanted. He would corner her, grab her arm. Another coach would ask what her “type” is, making remarks about how she looked that day. One coach followed her home one night to her front door asking her to go to the pool, because she would “look amazing in a bikini.”
“I am a broke college student, I couldn’t lose this job, and I was scared of him.”
The head coach, Justin Wilcox, made it a special rule that she could not wear shorts or tank tops, singling her out.
When her mom was visiting, she got a text from a coach before a game.
“‘Meet me in my room’. I couldn’t let my mom down, if I got fired she wouldn’t be able to support me, so I said I was leaving for the night.”
Students take desperate measures to stay in their crappy jobs because pay checks are necessary for survival.
“When I got to his room, I was scared, so I just laid on the bed and tried to make small talk. He started taking his clothes off. I started crying uncontrollably. He yelled at me to get out of his room, and that he could fuck any girl he wanted. From that point on I was still working for the team.”
In her Facebook post, she details multiple incidents similar to the one above, calling out several individuals by name, including Wilcox, athletic director Jim Knowlton, and receiver Jordan Duncan, who was known as a sexual harasser among the sports medicine interns.
“Cal Football, Your Time is Up. Take Responsibility.”
Since the stories were published, there have been no updates to the allegations. Has this been normalized to the point where we talk about it for one day and never again?
This woman is going to have to live with this for the rest of her life. All allegations need to be taken seriously and not forgotten about three weeks later. Just because more people in our world are coming forward about allegations of sexual assault and harassment, does not mean we can forget about it.
Even though the athletic department will deny the allegations behind closed doors, doesn’t mean nothing happened. There is only a six % rate of false reports. More than 90% of allegations are true.
It is no longer acceptable for women to have to stand idly-by and become objectified. Stop normalizing disgusting behaviors.
One in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Stop making this a common occurrence.
Hold people accountable. Hold the president accountable. Hold the head football coach accountable. Hold the lead actor accountable. Hold the RnB singer accountable. Hold the film director accountable. Hold them accountable.