Fan’s case in public comment and senator discourse
Evan Robinson, the advocacy director of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno and Fiorina Chau, a student in the College of Engineering, gave public comments at the start of the Oct. 11 meeting. The comments regarded the alleged sexual assault case on behalf of a mechanical engineering professor, Feifei Fan against the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the university and Yanyao Jiang, another mechanical engineering professor.
Robinson took a seat supported by two students from the College of Engineering who have expressed concerns about the university’s Title IX response to this case.
Robinson explains the details of Fan’s case, saying that Fan had submitted “overwhelming” evidence, including his alleged confession under oath in court and key witnesses, all of which was allegedly “denied” by Title IX and the university.
“This case exemplifies someone who has exhausted all avenues of advocacy who was ultimately let down by our failing Title IX office and university,” Robison said. “As senators, it is imperative that a resolution is written condemning Doctor Jiang, the university’s failure to educate international students and faculty on Title IX policies [and] I would also like to be included in this resolution asking for the resignation for Doctor Jiang and a requirement for the university to train international students and faculty on their workplace rights.”
Chau then gave public comment about the case and the support they are looking for from the table.
“I want to see Professor Yanyao Jiang’s contract with the university terminated for his alleged sexual abuse of Doctor Fefei Fan from 2006,” Chau said.
Chau called the case a systemic issue in the entirety of the Nevada System of Higher Education, naming other cases and other professors and chairs in the case that allegedly contributed to Fan’s case.
“When all avenues are exhausted, what was Fan supposed to do? Let alone a student?” Fan asked the table. “I want all these people that allowed this to happen to also be held accountable.”
Chau also mentioned the letter that the Faculty Teacher Alliance submitted in December 2022, which was ignored.
“If even faculty has expressed concerns, I wonder, how many cases are there and how deep does this run?” she said.
Chau also criticized Title IX policies and the department’s procedure of student cases, wanting the organization and its staff to be investigated.
She then asked the table to support their movement by reposting the “Stand With Feifei” information, releasing a statement on socials condemning sexual assault, organizing a fund for victims, hiring a third party investigator, providing resources for international students to report to and receive support when experiencing situations like this.
“As senators, I know it can be really scary to speak up or to go against the people that you are working for, but just remember who all of you guys are representing,” Chau said. “That’s me and that’s the rest of the students … Will you guys show up and stand with us at tomorrow’s protest or will you guys just be complacent when students are depending on you guys to say something? We’re the ones who f—ing elected you guys so f—ing do something about it. And if you don’t then who’s going to be next?”
During the executive branch’s reports, Hannah Alquiza, the vice president of the ASUN, thanked the individuals who came out to public comment for the Fan case and told the table that the ASUN would be releasing a statement on Oct. 12. She also encouraged everyone to follow the @standwithfeifei Instagram page.
The ASUN posted a statement on their Instagram account on Oct. 12, regarding the recently discovered sexual assault allegations made by Fan.
“We stand firmly with Dr. Feifei Fan and all survivors of power-based violence,” the statement wrote. “We recognize that systemic barriers from reporting are even more prevalent among communities of color. We empower them to share their stories and continue seeking justice in the face of suppression and adversity.”
The statement received 1,312 likes.
“ASUN strongly encourages the University to actively assess and reflect on the structures, policies, and processes of academic departments and support services such as Title IX to ensure that there are safe, independent, and equitable remedies for power-based violence that center the needs of victims and not perpetrators,” the statement continued. “We call on the University and NSHE to thoroughly investigate any ongoing Title IX issues.”
Alquiza’s announcement of the release of the statement sparked some discourse among the table at the end of the meeting during the comments and discussion with the senate body. Some senators began to question the cabinet’s ability to release statements like these without consulting the senate body about its approval.
Joel Martin, senator for the College of Liberal Arts, said he doesn’t want to log on to social media and see when ASUN makes a statement about something without knowing what’s going on. He emphasized that this is not just related to the Fan case, but an ASUN social media issue overall.
“This is a senate versus pres-cab type thing. We need to be better together. Because they’ll post things and I have no clue what they’re talking about,” Martin said.
Jefrin Jojan, senator for the College of Engineering, announced that he engages with students and Fan supporters relating to this topic and supports the public commentators that came to the table. He said they were very “brave” for standing up to “institutional failure.”
Aween Ali, senator for the College of Engineering, also announced she and the other senators in her college are working with the Dean on an action plan for the Fan situation. Ali believes they should take a step back, talk to administration and the college, and see where the situation affects the college the most because of each party’s differing opinions.
Antony Kuhl, senator for the College of Engineering, also reminded the table that they are not trying to contribute to the Fan investigation.
“It’s to ensure that our students feel secure in their ability to obtain a degree from the College of Engineering and that the administration has, in concrete, a plan for whatever outcomes may result from any investigation,” Kuhl said. “So that way our students feel safe to report about different situations …”
Kelsea Frobes, senator for the School of Journalism, told the table that the goal is to support their constituents because they were elected to represent them.
“Regardless of what the verdict is, our students have come to us and asked for support and I think that it is very important that we support them,” Frobes said.
Leaf Acklin, senator for the College of Liberal Arts, said he understands the concern for putting out a statement on behalf of the Fan case.
“If [Fan’s case] is true, it’s completely awful and NSHE and UNR have to do something about it,” Acklin said. “But let’s say it wasn’t true. Then that looks bad on ASUN, UNR and Joel Martin as a person, so I don’t blame him for giving his opinion … I just think there’s more to it than just saying you’re with us or you’re against us. Especially when you’re dealing with people’s lives, people’s careers, people’s livelihoods. It’s a little more difficult than that.”
Acklin also added that he would like to learn more about it because it is a growing issue on campus.
They also discussed that the protest would occur on Oct. 12 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the business building groundbreaking.
Robinson also added at the end of the meeting, telling the table that he worked for 14 hours helping with the Fan case and reminded the table that students came to the senate table crying today and have been posting personal information about their own Title IX stories.
“Also remember that if you choose to be silent, that is something the student body will remember and that is something that people will not take lightly,” Robinson said.
A Binding Resolution To Add A NevadaCares Liaison Position To The Committee On Safety, Sustainability, and Wellness
A new resolution, A Binding Resolution To Add A NevadaCares Liaison Position To The Committee On Safety, Sustainability, was proposed by Tivona Brumfield, the senator for the School of Medicine.
This resolution was proposed to create a new liaison position for NevadaCARES, a resource center for advocacy services of students who may have been impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence and/or stalking.
According to the resolution, creating this position will help represent these services at events, and inform students on the services offered and prevent the organization from having to reach out to various officers in the ASUN.
The resolution was passed unanimously through the senate.
New senators elected in the College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts
The applicants running for the two College of Science senator positions were Emma Doty, Vera Vaz and Grace Wroldsen.
After presentations, questions and the table’s discussion, Doty was elected with 13 votes. Vaz was elected with 17. Both were sworn in for the positions during the meeting.
The applicants running for the single College of Liberal Arts senator position were Mya Skowronski, Holly Kuhl, Keaton Fox and Ally Chavez.
Each candidate gave a presentation and answered questions from the table, who then had extensive discourse about who to fill in this position.
At one point, Erin Shaffer, the speaker pro tempore motioned to the previous question not through unanimous consent to cut the discussion off after roughly 35 minutes. The majority agreed with this motion, but some senators were unsatisfied with the discussion being cut off.
Ali said she was disappointed in the fact that the senators couldn’t stay longer for more discussion on the liberal arts senator.
“I don’t care if we get out of here at [midnight], we signed up for this job,” Joel Martin, the senator for the College of Liberal Arts said.
Acklin told the table he was apologetic for voting to cut the discussion because he knows it’s their job to represent the students, no matter how late it is.
“We have a job to do and that job is to represent students and make sure that our colleges and this university is represented to the fullest extent,” Acklin said.
Four senators abstained from the vote due to conflict of interest or missing parts of the presentations. Skowronski was picked with a total of nine votes as the new College of Liberal Arts senator and sworn in during the meeting.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.