In spite of the ongoing legal proceedings against her, actor and former NXIVM member Allison Mack has been spotted attending classes at University of California, Berkeley. This week, fellow students at the school have taken to TikTok and Reddit to talk about their discomfort with Mack’s presence, and the university’s apparent unwillingness to address her enrollment with the student body at large.
“I'm not trying to start a witch hunt here but she's a public figure and I think people should know about this so that they don't share personal info that they wouldn't want a sex-trafficking cult leader to have,” Reddit user ucbthrowaway24680 wrote.
Mack has most recently appeared substantially in archival footage featured in The Vow, a currently-airing HBO documentary series that tells the story of alleged cult NXIVM. The series situates Mack as a major figure within the cult who was in charge of the sub-organization known as DOS. Former members of this so-called “women’s empowerment” group claim it had practices that included a stringent master-slave hierarchy, manipulating members into having sex with NXIVM founder Keith Raniere, and branding members with Mack’s and Raniere’s initials.
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In a riff on the “put a finger down” meme, TikTok user @jefferystarrofficial described befriending Mack (whom she described as “super participatory”) in a gender studies course over the summer, before learning about Mack’s past online. “Oh wait, this is her, this is the same person that carved her initials into women’s bodies,” the user quipped. (Neither the Reddit user nor the TikTok user immediately responded to requests for comment from VICE.)
According to the original Reddit post comments from other users who identified as students, Mack was enrolled in multiple courses, including one titled “Gender, Sex and Power” and another titled “The History and Practice of Human Rights.” Users reported raising concerns about Mack to professors and administrators. “She was in my ‘Gender, Sex and Power’ class for about a week, but left voluntarily after outcry from students who did not feel safe discussing those topics with someone who branded other women,” ucbthrowaway24680 wrote. “Our professor will not tell us how the administration is handling this matter being brought to their attention due to privacy laws.”
Freelance journalist Julian Feeld tweeted screenshots Tuesday that appear to show Mack participating in a Zoom class whose listing matches that of Berkeley’s “The History and Practice of Human Rights” course.
UC-Berkeley did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mack did not immediately respond to requests for comment via her social media or her agent.
Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges connected to her involvement with NXIVM in April 2019, for which she is currently awaiting sentencing. She had also been charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy, and initially pleaded not guilty to those charges. Despite being under house arrest, Mack is able to attend college classes because of an exemption granted by the court in 2018 that allows her to go to school, work, and attend church.
Raniere was found guilty in June 2019 of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, trafficking of labor, forced labor conspiracy, and sexual exploitation of a child, among other charges. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced in October of this year.
UC-Berkeley, like all schools that fall under the UC umbrella, enacted a “Beyond the Box” initiative in 2016, eliminating the requirement that students disclose “criminal justice information,” like past convictions or even active legal proceedings, during the college admissions process.
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