On Mar. 9, a press release issued by the Justice for Laya Coalition announced that UC Irvine’s Office of Student Conduct has found Student Regent Jesse Cheng responsible for sexual battery.
Since the New University’s initial article, “Student Regent Under Investigation” (Feb. 15), Cheng has spoken out about the allegations, asserting his innocence; Student Conduct has declined to comment publicly.
Following the outpour of media attention surrounding the investigation, AF3IRM and the Mariposa Center for Change — two feminist groups — have joined resources to form the Justice for Laya Coalition.
The Coalition, which draws its name from that of Cheng’s alleged victim, organized a protest targeted at Cheng and the UC Regents during their latest meeting in San Francisco. Over 25 organizations have officially endorsed the campaign, including UCI’s Delta Phi Gamma, Black Student Union, MEChA, American Indian Student Association and Kababayan.
A group of representatives from the Justice for Laya coalition picketed outside of the Mar. 16 meeting, which Cheng did not attend, with signs and chants that called for Cheng’s resignation.
Dr. Annalisa Enrile, Mariposa Center for Change Board President, said in the Justice for Laya’s Mar. 9 press statement, “A sexual batterer should not continue to represent the student voice. The UC Regents said they would take the lead from the UCI Office of Student Conduct. By not removing him from his office, the UC Regents are publicly condoning sexual battery and assault on their campuses.”
Regent Russ Gould, current Chair of the Board of Regents, addressed the issue at the meeting, confirming that the Regents were taking the matter seriously and would proceed with their decision following the University’s final decision regarding Cheng’s appeal.
But despite the University’s decision, Cheng still maintains his innocence. “Student Conduct has a much lower standard of evidence than any criminal proceeding,” Cheng said. “It only needs evidence suggesting the likelihood that something happened.”
As of Sunday, March 27, no final decision has been announced.