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UNR students disrupt university event in support of faculty member alleging sexual abuse

A crowd of students holding signs that say “Will I be next?” and “Stop protecting rapists.”
Maria Palma
KUNR Public Radio
UNR students hold signs that say “Will I be next?” and “Stop protecting rapists” in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 12, 2023.

About a hundred UNR students disrupted the groundbreaking ceremony for the university's new business complex.

With chants and signs that read “Stop protecting rapists” and “Will I be next?,” the students voiced their support of UNR associate professor Feifei Fan.

The mechanical engineering professor filed a lawsuit in December 2022 against the Nevada System of Higher Education. Fan’s lawsuit accuses professor Yanyao Jiang of sexual slavery, assault, abuse and misconduct.

Fan alleges that she was raped and abused by Jiang for over a decade. In her lawsuit, Fan claims the abuse began in 2006 when she started her graduate studies. She also alleges that the university allowed abuse and intimidation against foreign students.

The lawsuit only recently came to light to the larger university community following a GoFundMe page set up by Fan.

Among the protestors was student Fiorina Chau who said she is disappointed with how the university has handled the situation.

“A lot of people just get such a negative experience (with Title IX), and what are you supposed to do after you exhaust all avenues and you don't get any justice? I want reform. I want investigation into the people that let this happen. Feifei Fan’s case isn’t just her,” Chau said.

As the students’ chants grew louder, UNR President Brian Sandoval delivered a few words before beginning his speech at the groundbreaking for the new Mathewson Gateway Project.

“I want to say this, I’m proud of this university and I’m proud of our students. This is what democracy is all about. And I pledge to work with all of you and I’ll continue to do so,” Sandoval said.

The protest came just as University officials are celebrating the start of UNR’s 150th anniversary festivities.

As a note of disclosure, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents owns the license to this station.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.