GREENSBORO, N.C. — Freshman Raina Gee says she was raped by a fellow North Carolina A&T student.
Gee says she confided in her Blue Squad cheer coaches, and it was their responsibility to report the alleged sexual assault as University employees. She says they didn't, and now she wants her coaches fired.
"Time will tell, but I do stand firm on the coaches staff at A&T needs to be fired," Gee said.
Gee planned a protest Monday at the men's and women's basketball games. Dozens of protesters met at the New Student Center Lobby wearing all black, as a 'symbol of solidarity for anyone who has been sexually assaulted and/or raped.'
"Honestly, no one is really going to understand unless someone speaks up and puts their voice out there," Raina said. "So if the students have to be the voice to get the University's attention that’s the best thing to do because at the end of the day we are students here, we put money in and all voices should matter and that’s the point we’re trying to get across."
Raina originally said the group will 'storm the basketball game and demand accountability from the athletic department.'
But she ended up taking a peaceful approach.
"We still at the end of the day are students we have to respect the University so we want our message to get across and not taken over by violence."
The Blue Squad cheerleading team has been benched while the investigation of the sexual assault allegations, and the coaches handling of it, is conducted.
"The cheer program has been put on a brief break to give member of the cheer squad, experiencing significant stress right now, the opportunity to regroup and that’s in support of their well being and mental health and that’s the reason that step was taken," Todd Simmons with University Relations said.
University leaders said they are proud of Raina and the group for speaking out.
"We always encourage our students to exercise their First Amendment rights and to speak up about the things that concern them and in the University community that counts double," Todd Simmons with University Relations said.
As far as the investigation goes, Simmons couldn't say very much.
"What we can say is when allegations like this are raised, there’s very little we can say in public due to student privacy laws at the federal level and at the state level."
The A&T athletic department sent out the following statement last week:
The North Carolina A&T cheer program will enter a period of reduced cheerleading activity effective immediately through Feb. 19, 2019, North Carolina A&T Director of Athletics Earl M. Hilton III announced on Thursday.
The reduced activity will include the cheer program not performing during home men’s and women’s basketball games against Delaware State on Saturday, February 9 and Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday, February 11. It also includes no cheerleading practices.
North Carolina A&T Athletics’ primary concern continues to be the health and safety of our student-athletes. We hope the reduction in cheering activity will allow time for us to focus on the student welfare of our cheer program while also allowing our cheerleaders to focus on academics and other aspects of student life at North Carolina A&T.