Take rape on campus seriously

It’s better to teach people not to rape others rather than teaching them how to avoid being raped.

Keelia Moeller

A sexual assault case at Stanford University has fueled an already heated debate about rape at college campuses. Such an issue is undeniably prevalent and hasn’t been dealt with appropriately by judges or law enforcement.

One in four women are sexually assaulted during their time at college. Few end up reporting the crime.

Last January, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University, was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Two witnesses intervened and detained Turner until police officers arrived at the scene. On top of witness testimonies, there was DNA evidence linking Turner to the crime.

Despite the evidence, the case went to trial. In turn, the rapist was only given six months in county jail and three years of probation.

The judge’s reasoning for this ridiculously lenient decision? Turner lacked a criminal history, and a “prison sentence would’ve had a ‘severe impact’ on him.” 

To make matters worse, the cross-examination largely focused on the woman’s decision to imbibe alcohol that night. 

Stanford banned Turner from campus, but schools have little agency when it comes to imposing sanctions on students embroiled in rape investigations. 

Instead of teaching people how to avoid being raped, we should be teaching people not to sexually assault. Let’s teach young people about consent, emphasizing the respect and autonomy of one’s body. 

We must stop focusing on tangential aspects of victim-survivors. It’s of little relevance to know how much a victim-survivor drank, whether they went out alone or what they choose to wear. Interrogating victim-survivors like this further stigmatizes and isolates them and diminishes the severity of the crime.

Prestigious schooling and a lack of a criminal record do not excuse rape. Rape is a crime and must be punished. There’s no defense for violating someone’s body.

 

Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected]