My Old School

 
College football teams should make news headlines for winning games and competing for national championships.

Not for this.

According to Phillip Erickson, of the Waco Tribune-Herald, “Baylor University on Tuesday night was served with a seventh Title IX lawsuit, which alleges as many as eight football players drugged a student and took turns raping her in 2012.”

This, mind you, is on the heels of a nine-month investigation by Pepper Hamilton, LLP, of Philadelphia, into allegations of sexual assault at Baylor.

Where I went to college.

Erickson’s report is chock full of vile, repugnant details, but let me just bring up a couple for your consideration:

“According to the suit, the football team had a system of hazing freshman recruits by having them bring freshman females to parties to be drugged and gang-raped, “or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls.””

Let that soak in a minute. Part of a freshman football player’s initiation to the team involved being part of a gang rape. With a woman that he brought!

Has the gravity of that hit you yet?

Let’s continue:

“Considered a bonding experience by the players, according to the suit, the rapes also were photographed and videotaped, and the plaintiff confirmed that at least one 21-second videotape of two Baylor students being gang- raped by football players had circulated.”

A bonding experience!!

Guys, you really feel closer as teammates after raping a drugged woman together?

The report goes on to say the alleged victim and her mother met with an assistant coach from the team, gave him the names of the players involved, and never heard from him again. She was subsequently harassed by several players via text messages, discouraged by the school from taking any action, required to still attend classes with two of the players, and burglarized by members of the football team. (The items were later returned with the understanding no charges would be filed.)

Oh, and there was this:

The head football coach, Art Briles, had this to say after learning the names of the players involved: “Those are some bad dudes…why was she around those guys?” (italics mine)

Hear that, ladies? That’s why this girl was gang raped; she was around the wrong people! Never mind that she was brought to them! Even around males of questionable character, it still must be her fault somehow.

(Ladies, does that surprise you? I think I know the answer.)

 

Erickson’s report also describes the total institutional failure of the university in handling this incident, references another lawsuit, alleging 52 acts of rape (fiftytwo!) by no fewer than 31 players, and updates the status of some of the players in the legal system. There is no update on the victim, other than as the plaintiff in this lawsuit. To the school’s credit, it has taken, and is taking, important steps to assure a safer environment there for all its female students. Perhaps someday, I can look on my alma mater with pride again.

But not today. Definitely not today.

How did it ever come to this?, you wonder.

Well, the fact is, my brothers, it all comes down to how we view and treat women. Period.

I honestly don’t know how but, guys, we have got to have a major attitude adjustment in this matter.

We have got to understand, women aren’t just sex toys. They’re not college hazing props, or a “bonding experience.” They’re not a bunch of filthy sluts, just waiting for a much deserved pounding.

They’re people, guys. They’re human beings. They are entitled to respect, and dignity, and equality.

And, none of them – I mean, none of them! – ever “asks for it.”

So, fellas, let’s hold each other accountable. You hear one of your buddies talking $#!t about a woman, call him on it. Yeah, you’ll probably catch all kinds of grief for it, but this is the time for, to borrow a movie title, A Few Good Men.

Change has to start somewhere, guys. Look in your heart and start there.

Real Men (Not)

 

I’ll tell you, there are some days when I am thoroughly, utterly, unspeakably ashamed for my gender.

From the Associated Press: (5/27/2016)

“DALLAS (AP) — After months of silence, Baylor University responded to mounting criticism of its handling of accusations of sexual assaults and other attacks by football players by demoting its president, Ken Starr, and firing its football coach, Art Briles.

“Baylor also released Thursday the main findings of a withering report by a law firm that reviewed the school’s handling of such cases and found, among other things, that administrators denied that the university had a sexual violence problem and failed on several levels to investigate claims. In one case, they retaliated against someone for reporting a sexual assault, it found…

“The review by Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton found systemic failures that extended well beyond the football program, though it was the cases involving players that brought the issue front and center.

“Not all victims received hearings for their cases, sometimes because the university claimed it had no control over anything occurring off campus. The review found the “overwhelming majority of cases” of sexual assault or harassment did not get a hearing, and an “extremely limited number of cases” ended in a finding against the accused or a significant punishment.

“Investigations of sexual assault were often “inadequate or uninformed,” the firm said. Administrators were not given enough training on how to evaluate domestic violence, stalking or the role of alcohol in a sexual assault case.

“In addition, the investigations were conducted in the context of a broader culture and belief by many administrators that sexual violence ‘doesn’t happen here,'” the review found. “Administrators engaged in conduct that could be perceived as victim-blaming, focusing on the complainant’s choices and actions.””

This is going on at my alma mater! 

I’m a graduate of Baylor University, though I’m not sure I want to admit it, lately.

Again, from the Associated Press: (6/7/2016)

“SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Stanford University “did everything within its power” to ensure justice in the case of a former swimmer sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman… (italics mine)

“The university banned Brock Turner from campus after wrapping up its investigation less than two weeks after the attack…

“The 20-year-old Turner was sentenced last week to six months in jail and three years’ probation, sparking outrage from critics who say Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky was too lenient on a privileged athlete from a top-tier swimming program. Some are urging he be removed from the bench.

(The judge, incidentally, is a Stanford University alumnus.)

“The case gained national attention after prosecutors released a poignant statement from the 23-year-old victim that she read in court. Criticism intensified when a letter from Turner’s father to the judge was released, in which he pleaded for leniency and said his son had already paid a steep price for “20 minutes of action.””

Admittedly, I was not even aware of this story before reading Katherine Fritz’ powerful post on http://www.iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com (a post you all MUST read)

It’s a genuinely sickening tale.

It’s horrifying enough that these assaults actually took place, but the aftermath is equally horrifying.

Indifference. Denial. Intimidation. Betrayal. Miscarriage of justice. Protection for athletes, contempt for victims.

If this is what women face who come forward about what was done to them, it is an unmitigated wonder any of them do.

 

I had a rather startling experience the day after I read about the Brock Turner case. I was at a fast food place, getting some lunch. As I stood in line to order, and as I sat down to eat, I looked around at all the females in the restaurant…

…and I saw them all, for probably the first time ever, as potential assault victims.

It could happen to any of them, I thought. The little girl, the old lady, the tall one, the short one, the thin one, the heavy one, the white one, the black one…

Any of them.

That almost incomprehensible truth hit me like a shot. In that moment, I had a glimpse into how the world must sometimes look to women. How honestly terrifying.

They live in a culture that ignores, denies, misunderstands, excuses, tolerates, even justifies, in some cases, the sexual assault of women. To characterize that as wrong is woefully inadequate. There is no excuse. There is no justification.

Period.

And, by the way, I do NOT want to hear that “Sometimes, she asks for it,” or that some women just cry wolf to exact revenge on some poor schmuck.

Guys, listen up for a second.

Are you listening? Good.

NO.

WOMAN.

ASKS FOR IT.

EVER.

I hope that was clear enough for you.

And, do you really think some woman could get pissed off at you enough to fabricate a whole story about you assaulting her, knowingly subjecting herself to shame and humiliation, not just for herself, but her family and friends, willingly going through the process of a trial, answering one embarrassing question after another, just to get even?

I can’t begin to tell you how ridiculous that sounds.

There are several important women in my life, within my circle of family and friends. Women I love and care for, deeply. The thought of any of them being violated (and, tragically, a few have been), then betrayed by a cowardly, clueless school administration, or a worthless, pathetic justice system…

“Pillars Of Society”, in other words…

It lights a fire in my very core.

Because, I realize, this goes beyond one school, or one judge. This is a systemic problem throughout our society, and it absolutely must be addressed, confronted, and fixed.

And, my brothers, we must be part of the solution. Because far too many of us are part of the problem.

And, as a member of the male species, I’m fed up with it.

 

BTW: Bravo to the two grad students who caught Brock Turner in the act, chased him down and held him for the police. There are still a few heroes out there.