If Only Universities Did Something About Campus Rapes...

by Naomie Tat on January 27, 2017 - 10:40am

The lack of serious consequences and punishment given to campus rapists is staggering. In the Fall of 2015, Crystal Stroup, who was 18, had too much to drink at a party and her friends asked a male student to look after her. As she woke up the next morning, she had bruises on different parts of her body and recalled having non-consensual sex with a man by the name of Jared Gihring. The young man had been reported to the Kansas State University officials prior to the incident because he had raped another female student, Sara Weckhorst, over a year earlier. However, Gihring pleaded not guilty to having raped both young women and was only expelled two years after Weckhorst reported him to the school. This case, amongst many others, raises the question of whether or not universities do enough to prevent campus rapes, conduct proper investigations of these incidents and if they should expel the accused student immediately after being reported. At Indiana University, an alumnus was found guilty of having raped two women. The school was also accused of having ignored the offenders' history of sexual assault. In many of these cases, victims are embarrassed and don't report it. When they do, they are not taken seriously by their schools and are sometimes blamed for having drunk to the point where their memories seem blurry. In Kansas, Weckhorst was told by a university employee that they would not take action since the incident occurred in a fraternity house off-campus. Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, who is a former investigator of sexual assault at Kansas State University, put pressure on the school to better handle these complaints but failed. She says the university did not want to take responsibility in what happened at fraternity houses. Therefore, they would send these cases without investigation to the Interfraternity Council, who consist of students and are not trained to investigate these cases. The government is currently investigating Kansas State University, as all the victims have filed lawsuits against it and its way of handling the many campus rape complaints they have had. As for Stroup, she has had to move to University Crossing, where the man who assaulted her was also sent. She ended up dropping out of school since it was incredibly difficult and stressful for her to have to see him on a daily basis. Her grades were affected and she has, in turn, lost hope for her dream of becoming a doctor.

This case, as well as the overall issue of campus rapes, could be affected by anybody. Reporting a rape can be done very easily through calling 911 and can even be one anonymously. Similar incidents can happen to anybody and not solely on university campuses. Telling the authorities will help start investigations. If reporting sexual assaults cases become less looked down upon and seen as a joke, more people will report what has happened to them as they will be less "embarrassed". It will help them see that it is taken more seriously by school officials and that they might help others at the same time. Many different support groups for sexual assault victims are also available and can easily be reached.

Stephanie Saul's "When Campus Rapists Are Repeat Offenders" was published in The New York Times on January 24th, 2017. It is a reliable source because Saul is a higher education reporter, who wrote an unbiased article about a topic she has very obviously researched since she quotes many researchers and studies. She also gives numerous examples by talking about different cases and events that are related to the topic. In addition, The New York Times is a renowned American newspaper that has won an impressive amount of prizes.

Comments

Visually, there is nothing better than having a post divided into many paragraphs, each representing a different idea or thought. I would like to congratulate you for having written a beautiful article. However, I do believe in your summary, for the first paragraph, you should have stick to only summarizing the article. This way, you can go to straight to the important points.

To be honest, I have never heard of the case of Crystal Stroup, but what you are saying about the universities lack of actions towards campus rapists is absolutely true! I can think of the Stanford University case where the father of the rapist, Brock Turner, famously referred rape as "20 minutes of action" (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/06/father-stanford-universi... )*. Rape is rape. His statement shows how, in society, there is still people who do not take rape allegations seriously.

To support your argument, I found an article written by a freelance journalist who wrote many articles on sexual allegation cases involving college football players which won her The Halberstam Award as well as being named an IMPACT25 honoree by ESPN (http://jessicawluther.com/thelist/ ). You can find the outcome of different cases where the victim actually reported her case to the authorities. It bothers me that the majority of the victims were not able to get the closure they wanted and branded as "life wrecker", slut, gold-digger (and the list goes on and on) while the aggressors were able to still play college football without facing any consequences from the justice court or the university.

It is time universities start creating a safer environment for every student.

*Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post and CBC wrote the same quote in their article on the Stanford rape case.

About the author

Naomie Tat currently studies Digital Arts & New Media (2D & 3D Animation) at Champlain College Saint-Lambert. She is a Montreal-born International Baccalaureate program high school graduate.