To all activist spaces in Southern California,
It has come to our attention that multiple rapist of activists, Ian Chinich, is operating with the support of friends in our area. Ian Chinich is currently affiliated with efforts to bring Chilean comrades to campuses to talk about current struggles underway in Chile.
We have come to learn that some believe Ian Chinich to be a “reformed” rapist. Others may even empathize with Chinich as one who is, in their minds, also a victim of his own actions requiring support and comradery. At any rate, there are those who are invested in the project of Chinich’s rehabilitation who defend him when efforts to remove him from spaces are undertaken.
We have no time for any redemption or reform narrative surrounding Chinich. Those who would force us to take time away from our work in the struggle, our private lives, and whatever semblance of peace of mind we have mustered in the absence of the presence of a rapist to consider the possibility of now including a rapist are themselves perpetrators of violence. We are flatly opposed to him using his tour and any space on our campus, UCLA, to promote himself as a comrade or elude his past history.
Spaces that contain Chinich can never be truly safe and non-triggering for victims/survivors and their allies. We are opposed to any process or conversation that will subject ourselves or anybody else to topics such as the likelihood of his changes of heart or future assaults. Such discussions are in and of themselves violations of the right that true comrades have to occupy space without incurring or triggering severe trauma. For example, the question “will he rape again?” is itself a violation, as is his presence.
We recognize the agency required to render these spaces rapist-free as the supreme agency in these matters. All other processes, possibilities, and testimonials are secondary to any manifestation of agency which would keep Chinich away. All other approaches reduce to a logic which shifts the burden of “transformation” onto victims/survivors and demands that they be more tolerant of rapists.
We will not take action to stop any individuals engaging with Chinich outside of our revolutionary spaces to experiment with projects of transformation. If activists would like to experiment with applying transformative processes to cases of activist-on-activist sexual assault, they may do so at their own peril and at the cost of energy spent on other activities.
However, the moment such efforts encroach upon any space not specifically designed for transformation and not composed of people who have self-selected to engage in transformative experiments, all of those who support Chinich become complicit in violence done to victims/survivors and their allies. At such time where Chinich’s supporters enable his presence in any space not designed for transformative experiments they force those who’re giving their time and labor to other projects to take up the question of transformation, and reorient spaces around the needs and hopes of a rapist. We didn’t sign up for this.
We are not qualified to “heal the rapists.” We would rather spend our limited revolutionary energies learning other skills.
Nobody can “certify” a rapist as “safe” for us and we would not expect victims/survivors to accept anyone’s certification. Further, we believe it is violent to present victims/survivors with any supposed certification of safety, which is always an attempt to burden victims/survivors with the expectation to “get over” however they may feel about rapist-inclusion. We defer to any and all victims/survivors who want to engage in revolutionary projects and spaces free of rapists, and indeed, we defer even to the possibility that a comrade who has been subject to sexual assault may not participate to begin with in a space that takes into account the needs of rapists (as all processes and methods other than expulsion explicitly or implicitly do). We accept that this means that activists who rape other activists will no longer be welcome in the struggle.
We are opposed to making victims/survivors and their allies in revolutionary spaces part of a rapist’s personal transformation project. We will not allow UCLA to be part of Chinich’s “fresh start.” The ability for victims/survivors to fully participate in activities on their own campus must not be limited by the presence of a rapist. Chinich’s involvement with the impending Chilean student tour, without broad knowledge of Chinich’s history, presents the possibility of Chinich establishing relationships and doing more violence in our community when knowledge of Chinich’s actions inevitably reaches his would-be new comrades, or Chinich rapes again. We will not stand-by and therefore be complicit in the certainty of either the knowledge itself doing violence in cynically established friendships that Chinich is attempting to esablish or the violence of whatever future assaults he may engage in. It must be said that we would not care if Father Time appeared before us and told us with total certainty that Chinich or any other rapist is done raping – if transformation is to be a goal, the burden of transformation is not on those who would nonetheless feel unsafe and participate more fully in the absence of rapists. We will defend our campus.
We will under no circumstances reproduce any public dynamic wherein Chinich is presented as a comrade and the obligation to perform transformative work is shifted to victims/survivors. Despite whatever statements of principles or sincerity of those who would take another approach, any other approach ultimately becomes a demand to victims/survivors and their allies to either accept it at whatever emotional cost that entails, “get over it,” or evacuate their participation from spaces that contain rapists. More than that, any attempt to bring Cinich into these spaces, including attempts to even bridge the conversation, are nothing if not attempts to tell victims/survivors that they must leave these spaces.
While Chinich’s apologists and supporters clearly would rather keep victims/survivors in a state of ignorance about Chinich’s history as they facilitate his establishment of new activist relationships, which is indisputably proven by their total failure to inform every space Chinich comes into contact with about his history, we will not “roll the dice.” Unlike Chinich’s supporters, we will not claim the agency to gamble on the idea that “nothing will probably happen.” We reject the implicit paternalism of those who enable Chinich, a paternalism that decides that people’s right to use their agency to engage in self-defense is subordinate to Chinich establishing himself in Southern California activism. In the moment where the choice is made to not inform every space that Chinich is involved with, all activists in those spaces become objects and instruments in a primary desire to protect Chinich. In so far as this statement is necessary, violence has already been done both by Chinich and those around him. We expect an apology.
Though we will not work to oppose Chinich’s presence in spaces designed specifically to experiment with transformation, it must be said that having to begin to consider defending our campuses is also, itself, a violation. Ian’s involvement does come as a choice, leveled by organizers of the tour to campus communities, to decide which they find more important: establishing and defending rapist-free spaces or having access to comrades from the tour. That we at UCLA have to do the work of finding a way to accommodate both goals is the fault of tour organizers who should know better. Nonetheless, we have done the work and presented our solution.
Our solution is simple: To the extent Chinich is involved, present, or even mentioned at any UCLA functions we will make sure that the campus community knows who he is and what he has done. Ian Chinich will not be allowed onto our campus. If the Chilean student tour comes to UCLA, it must come without the presence or mention of Ian Chinich. We will defend our campus, and we will notify other campuses of this situation so that they may have the same option of self-defense that we do at UCLA.
We are writing this so that other networks of survivors and allies who may wish to take action to defend their campuses may do so. We oppose requiring survivors who may be in any space to cease their normal activities in our struggles and litigate this matter. We have not written this statement to encourage such discussions. With the release of this statement, drawing a line of self-defense, we hope to clarify the issue. We shift the burden of safety to all those who must now either tell Chinich to stay away, or to tell survivors any number of things to achieve a situation where self-defense efforts are abandoned and Chinich is allowed to enter campuses – all of those things, in the end, reducing to the message “survivors, get over it.” No discussion should be necessary in making the right choice.
To those supporting Chinich who may wish to engage in some form of dialogue with this statement rather than simply accommodate it: fuck you if you think we are required to even talk to you about this. Any effort taken on your part to do anything other than accommodate statements such as this one reveal how meaningless your idea of transformation is and that your processes could not have possibly been founded on a meaningful idea of what safety for victims/survivors means. Anything other than accommodation of this statement reveals that your narratives, excuses, processes, and principles are nothing but shallow ploys to effect a situation where things return “back to normal” for Chinich and that transformation amounts to “clean slate.” To any possible critique that distribution of this statement renders Chinich vulnerable to the state from Chinich’s supporters, FUCK YOU, you had the opportunity and the burden to inform spaces of Chinich – that burden is not ours, we do not choose to work with Chinich, YOU DO, and we are not tasked with finding the most responsible way to participate in your efforts to protect Chinich, efforts which are only necessary because you propel him into spaces that do not want him or any other rapist.
Again, we expect an apology.
Regardless of the broader effects of this statement, we will defend our campus.
Campus Self-Defense Network