When 20-year-old Brazilian tourism student Geisy Arruda appeared in college wearing a bright-pink miniskirt and heavy make-up on, she probably could not have imagined what she was about to encounter: A group of 700 enraged students ready to insult her and even attack her.
The incident occurred on October 22, and it involved 700 students from well-known Uniban (Universidade Bandeirantes – Bandeirantes University) in São Bernardo do Campo, Great-Metropolitan Area of São Paulo, and one of the wealthiest municipalities in the state.
As Geisy Arruda walked up the ramps around the atrium of the University, a few male students were already waiting impatiently. Some of them immediately rushed out to the classrooms calling out other classmates in order to watch the scene. Soon after about 200 students amongst males and females students were gathering outside to take a glimpse at Geisy.
At about 8:30 pm, when Geisy Arruda decided to go to the washroom along with her classmate Kelly Andrezzi, 19, a group of 20 girls invaded the place in an attempt to attack Geisy and force her to put some pants on and hide her legs.
"I was very afraid of what could happen, but I could not have imagined what was about to come, students were cursing Geisy, calling her ugly names and accusing her of drawing too much attention, even threatening to beat her up," commented Kelly, Geisy's friend.
Noticing the turmoil around the female's washroom, male students scrambled for the place trying to force their way in. "We had to slap, clinch and fight with the boys, who were trying to go into the bathroom, and trying to put cell phones between Geisy's legs," says female student Amanda de Souza Augusto, 19, another Tourism classmate. "It was an aggression, an injustice against her", protested Amanda.
Dr. Rubens, Managing development Professor at Universidade Bandeirantes, went into Geisy's rescue, but had to lock her up inside another room, as the rage increased and he feared more attacks. He begged Geisy to put on a teacher's gown, so she could leave the premises in peace. At that point 700 students were already packed up and lined up outside the classroom, spread all over the university ramps, screaming: "Let her out Professor, we want to rape her".
Groups of students climbed up the walls, trying to break the small upper windows, in order to peep at the girl. Some threatened to break into the room. Three University securities were able to kick the door open to find Geisy crying.
According to Folha de São Paulo, they were unable to provide any security, while one of them even said: "That's nice, how dare you come to class dressed this way." Afraid of the rape threats and abuse, a classroom Monitor prevented the security guards from escorting Geisy out as the crowd was unruly.
The same monitor managed to call 190 (local 911) and the police were finally able to calm drown the crowd with the help of pepper spray. "You are going to see the gostosona (slang for sexually attractive person) your officer," screamed one of the male students.
Accompanied by the police, Geisy left the room in tears, while students continue to chant: "Puta" (Whore)." Some students took pictures and videos like this were posted on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut3H5LTg4y8
Universidade Bandeirantes had promised to investigate the issue and punish everyone involved, but their decision this Sunday November 8, shocked everyone. The university simply decided to expel Geisy Arruda through a public note published as an ad in São Paulo daily newspapers.
The note headlined "Educational Responsibility – Education is made with attitude not complacency" says that the University had made an enquiry and concluded that the student is known to frequently attend classes in inappropriate clothes, which is not compatible with an academic environment. The document also stresses that the student should have made an effort to stop the tumult by putting on appropriate clothing when it was requested. The university concluded that Geisy was responsible for acting provocatively, "which resulted in a collective reaction in defense of the school environment."
The note also states that some of the students involved were suspended, while affirming the university was also in shock for the position of the press in defense of the student. It also accuses the student of having ties with a lawyer and a TV station.
According to Folha Online, Universidade Bandeirantes' lawyer, Josias de Souza, Geisy is responsible for what happened on October 22. "She always liked to provoke boys, the problem was not with her clothes, but the way she acts, talks, crosses her legs, and walks."
According to Portal Bibliotecário – a website specialized in providing numbers and statistics on Brazilian Universities – Universidade Bandeirantes is the fourth biggest university in number of students in the southeastern region of Brazil, and is the number three school in the state of São Paulo.
In 2009, the MEC, Brazilian Ministry of Education and Culture, has listed Universidade Bandeirantes as one of the worst universities in the country on a list that includes 500 institutions.
In a research released June 17, 2009, by the FIPE (Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas – Economic Research Institute Foundation), 99,3% of students interviewed admitted having some type of prejudice. The research did not include private school or universities, only public institutions.
In a interview with Daily TV show Hoje Em Dia (Nowadays), psychologist Ana Fraiman stated that the University is also responsible for the intolerance in Geisy's case:
"How is it possible that university employees could even have suggested that Geisy should just get out the room and simply go take a bus outside. What we saw here was a case of mass hysteria, a false moralism. This situation simply dragged the students into it because this fact was probably more interesting than the classes they were taking".
Now, Brazil's federal government has interfered in the matter. Minister Nilcéa Freire from the Special Secretariat of Policies for Women (SPM) said that she wants explanations from the school for ousting the youngster and also wants to know what the private university is doing to punish the students who attacked the woman.
Freire condemned the school for expelling the young lady and stated that the school's action shows "downright intolerance and discrimination."
"This is an absurdity," she commented. "The student went from victim to offender. If the university thinks it has to establish acceptable clothing standards it has to tell the students clearly what these standards are."
The Ministry of Education has also announced that it is opening a case against the school.
Edison Bernardo DeSouza is a journalist, having graduated in Social Communication Studies at Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, Brazil . He lived in the US and Canada for close to 12 years and participated in volunteering activities in social works agencies. DeSouza currently lives in São Paulo where he teaches English as a Second Language for both private English Language Institute and Private High-School. He is currently participating as an actor in two English Musicals in São Paulo – Brazil and is pursuing further advancements in his career. He is particularly interested in economics, history, politics and human rights articles.