News & Politics

UMass RAs: 'D**ks Out for Harambe' Is Sexual Assault

Resident assistants at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have threatened students that if they use the popular meme “d**ks out for Harambe,” they can face sexual assault charges under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The meme refers to a gorilla killed to save a child in May. The RAs argued that since the school has an African-American “Defined Residential Community” called “Harambe,” any meme about the gorilla will be taken as a “microaggression.” The particular crude meme in question will be considered sexual assault.

“To be very clear: using popularizes [sic] phrases/hashtags which encourage the exposition of body parts runs the risk of being reported as a Title IX incident. These are sexual assault incidences that not only get reported to Community Standards, but also to the Dean of Students,” the letter read (emphasis added). “Needless to say, it is a very serious incident—especially for a first year student!”

Yes, you read that right. These RAs are threatening that anyone who writes “d**ks out for Harambe” on a dormitory whiteboard could be charged with sexual assault. The meme is crude, for sure, but this seems a bit farfetched.

Their reasoning? “These comments are not only derogatory, but also micro-aggressions to some UMass Students,” write the RAs, who identify themselves as “Ryan and Colleen.” They explain that UMass offers “a DRP focusing on African-American heritage, and it is called the ‘Harambe’ floor. ‘Harambe’ is actually a Swahili word, which stands for ‘the point where people pull together.’ It has a very positive connotations [sic], but current social media has been misrepresenting it.”

“The floor has been in existence for many years, so any negative remarks regarding ‘Harambe’ will be seen as a direct attack to our campus’s African-American community,” Ryan and Colleen declare.

Here is the full letter:

First off, the hall is called “Harambee,” not “Harambe.” The Swahili word also has two e’s. In context, memes about Harambe have nothing to do with the race-segregated residence hall, and everything to do with the gorilla.

Next Page: Why this should be clear to anyone who uses the Internet.

This should be clear to anyone who uses the Internet. The memes have gone wild: “Harambe died for our sins,” “Harambe the Gorilla Mauled By Cecil the Lion in Animal Heaven.” Even presidential candidate Jill Stein tweeted about it, and journalists mocked her for keeping the anniversary of Harambe’s death rather than the anniversary of the March on Washington.

My personal favorite:

One of the popular memes about Harambe involves the lude call for exposing a certain part of the male anatomy.

The idea that a college student writing “D**ks out for Harambe” on a whiteboard is sexual assault relies on the intentional twisting of context. No, that student is not calling on men across campus to reveal themselves in public. The real irony is that the RAs consider it a “microaggression” against their black residence hall when someone uses one gorilla meme, but they consider it an assault against women when someone uses another.

Also, the Harambe hysteria is not limited to UMass Amherst. An anonymous source has told PJ Media that her sorority clamped down on the gorilla’s image being posted on social media.

A group of sorority sisters used the Greek letters of their organization to spell out the gorilla’s name, posting that text with an image of the gorilla on social media. Internal leadership then asked them to remove the photos, because they were deemed offensive.

Jarod Sasdi, who posted the RAs’ letter on social media, said that the threats of sexual assault charges will not stop the students in his hall from making Harambe references. “Absolutely not, we will stand by our friend no matter the consequences,” he told Campus Reform.

Sasdi also said he does not consider the “murder of a gorilla” to be a joke, and clarified that the floor was simply trying to pay their proper respects and condolences to Harambe. “I think [the RAs’] lack of knowledge of Harambe may have clouded their judgement,” he said.