It’s late August. I just returned home about two weeks ago from Vans Warped Tour. I was traveling for two months reaching out to Warped Tour attendees, talking with bands, and working with them to launch the Save Our Scene campaign. I had planned on writing a series of articles about the amazing summer I had and the countless touching stories I heard. I suppose I still plan to chronicle my experiences, but before I could get started on that, I started receiving social media notifications about a very different story. People were tagging me in the comments of a news story and asking me in person what I thought about the sign at the University of Cincinnati. I was hesitant to respond because as incredible as my summer was, it was a quick snap back to reality, and a cruel reminder that there’s still so much work to be done.
If you’re not already familiar with the story, many students were justifiably unsettled to see this a large homemade sign hung on the outside of an off-campus house which read “Your daughter got a gag reflex?”
College must be back in session.
This comes right alongside a brand new sexual assault case at NKU, and I am sure a myriad of stories nationwide I haven’t even heard of yet. This is, of course, on the heels of the disgusting Brock Turner case and the David Becker case, whose possible basketball career was shown more consideration than his two victims. We’ve all heard varying versions of these same stories, and frankly I think it’s a really tired narrative.
After thinking for a day or so about the abundance of sexual assault stories that come from college campuses, my thoughts on the matter can be answered in one question: What are these universities doing?
Certainly, I mean certainly there must be some college that has taken a strong stand against this, right? Now don’t get me wrong. We partner with the Norse Violence Prevention center at Northern Kentucky University, and they do absolutely amazing work and this isn’t a criticism of them, or any other similar center at any given college. But this is a strong criticism of the administrations of these colleges who throw (hardly any) money at a violence prevention center or Title IX coordinator, yet don’t follow up with real action. I’ve seen universities even abstain from calling rape what it is, and instead referring to it as “non-consensual sex.” And it’s even worse in colleges with a strong athletic program. The careers of these young athletes are put above the damage these experiences can have on the victims. Case in point: Florida State and Jameis Winston.
I just want to know of ONE college or university that has taken a stand and said “at this school, we do not tolerate sexual assault or harassment from our faculty or students, and will not discipline lightly”, and then act on it! Is there one doing this?? Because I haven’t heard of them. And I get it. Schools don’t want the associations that come with sexual assault cases. But if one would actually stand up against them instead of sweeping them under the rug, then perhaps we could look at the college in a positive light. Maybe instead of saying “that’s that school that covered up the rape accusations against their star quarterback”, we could look at a school and say “that’s the school that protected their students in that sexual assault case.” Which is a better association? Say you don’t allow people to rape other people on your campus. Then if they do, remove them and see that the victims get proper care. How is this so hard? How are so many colleges bumbling their sexual assault cases so badly?
Right now, sexual assaults happen on every single college campus. And right now, that’s a reality we all have to live with until enough of us are working to stop them. But college is considered a rite of passage so-to-speak for so many people, and an expensive one at that. It’s just what you do after high school in so many households. Sexual assault doesn’t have to be a rite of passage. If we’re paying the colleges so much in tuition, it just seems to me they could do just a little more to keep their students safe.