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NCAA Makes a Statement

I’m listening to the news Tuesday morning of the NCAA sanctions of Penn State.  It’s mostly good news for those of us who work for victim rights and an end to sexual violence.  But what does this say about all the sexual assaults that go un-reported and pushed under the rug under the guise of college athletics at many, many universities?
At a conference on Title IX and sexual assault two years ago, one of the keynotes, David Lisak, a Professor at UMass Boston who researches rapists, showed us a video, which is available on You Tube, on how to get a woman drunk so that you can have sex with her.  Dr. Lisak stated that if this was a video on how to get a child to submit to sexual abuse them it would be taken off the internet immediately by the Feds. 
Do you see where I am going here?  What happened at Penn State was horrible.  The abuse of children is horrible.  And our reaction as a culture to this horrific crime is appropriate.  But rape of women is JUST AS HORRIBLE as sexual abuse of children.  Until we, as a culture, begin to change our mindset that this is the case, the statistics I will quote below will continue to be relevant and perhaps worsen.  
“The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years (Fisher 2000).”
“Also disturbing is the lack of prosecution for those who commit rape; according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) only 9% of rapists face prosecution, and a mere 3% of rapists ever spend a single day in jail. 97% odds of evading jail time are not significant enough to deter sexual violence.” span style= font-family: Georgia, serif;”>These statistics should HORRIFY the NCAA.  Imagine the cultural change that could occur should national collegiate organizations like the NCAA were to take plain-old-every-day-sexual-assault and treat it with the same concern as what happened to those boys under Jerry Sandusky.  

The Center for Public Integrity and NPR have been investigating college sexual violence over the last few years and have learned the following:
— Colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault. Reporters at CPI discovered a database of about 130 colleges and universities given federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. But the database shows that even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent of them were expelled.
— The U.S. Department of Education has failed to aggressively monitor and regulate campus response to sexual assault. The department has the authority to fine schools that fail to report crime on campus. In 20 years, the department has used that power just six times. And the department can also find that a school has violated a law that prevents discrimination against women. But between 1998 and 2008, the department ruled against just five universities out of 24 resolved complaints.
— Colleges are ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault. Most of the time, alcohol is involved. Local prosecutors are reluctant to take these cases, so they often fall to campus judicial systems to sort through clashing claims of whether the sex was consensual or forced.    ~Findings of the Center for Public Integrity and NPR News Investigation
If these facts are true, and I expect they are, having worked at a university for almost 18 years, organizations like the NCAA and the Department of Education need to change their approach.  The Office of Civil Rights has recently required universities to be much more comprehensive as they address sexual violence but the movement toward change, particularly on a college campus, is slow.  State universities, do not have the funding to throw all their eggs into the sexual violence basket to quickly establish these changes.  
We need all the players, so to speak, to be at the table to end sexual violence on college campuses (and in the world).  We need the NCAA, the DOE, the OCR, and state agencies to see this issue as important, significant and horrific.  Until the culture which allows sexual violence to be quietly swept away shifts towards a world where a video on how to get a young woman drunk so she can be raped is swiftly taken off the internet and a fine or jail time imposed on the person who uploaded it, the rape of women will still remain further down the hierarchy of what is bad in our society.  And if raping women isn’t so bad, then why pay her equally for her work or provide her with adequate family leave or even allow her full participation in politics and the media.  Until women are considered equal to men, I sadly don’t think any of this will change.  

About thefeministcritic

Feminist, student affairs professional, actor, director, writer, yoga teacher, lover of dogs and cats, vintage trailers and an amazing cook named Jeff.

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my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.

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