Stanford, You Aren’t Doing Enough

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I knew what rape was when I was about four years old from watching television and my mother pointing it out. By age eight or nine, I knew what rape was because my mother was raped. I would not understand the entity of the full effects of rape until I was a teenager, and my mom applied for disability. At that time, in the late nineties, the government agencies didn’t advocate for rape victims to receive disability. I remember sitting in the room when the DFCAS worker interviewed my mom to see if she would be able to apply for disability. I don’t remember how the question was asked, but my mom responded by telling the case worker about her rape. My mom expressed that her rape continued to affect her even at the time. She told the caseworker that she couldn’t sleep, and when she would be out at night, she always thought that someone was following her even when they weren’t. It was until that moment that I realized that many rape victims have the experiences that my mom had.

My mom being raped took away her security, her confidence, and her direct agency over her decisions and herself. My mother is a prideful woman, and I cannot even imagine how many times she has beaten herself up and blamed herself for her rape. My mom’s rape happened in the late eighties when sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence, and feminist issues began being more examined. While I was looking at second wave feminists continuing the good fight and the emergence of third wave feminists would sound arrive in the 1990s and early 2000s, I thought that we had a chance to eliminate sexual assault, sexual violence, and domestic violence. Now, we have done a good job in bringing more awareness with these issues, but in the 21st century, the issues of sexual violence is a worsening issue. What is shameful about this is not the victims who experience it, but it is our very government and institutions who continue to make laws and policies where the perpetrator is protected. As it has been for centuries, the laws and policies that are established protect the accused and not the accuser.

As I woke up early this morning, I noticed on my device a New York Times article about a young female college student being raped by a football player who got off with raping her because of how the Sanford’s judicial process within the school protects the rapists and not the rape victim.

Sexual assault on college campuses has been going on since females have been able to attend collegiate institutions. The first studies of sexual assault on campus happening was in 1957:

“Male sex aggression on a university campus” was the title of one of the first studies published about a topic now very much in the news. Way back in 1957, sociologist Eugene Kanin posited a model where men used secrecy and stigma to pressure and exploit women.” (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/11/30/366348383/the-history-of-campus-sexual-assault).

The NPR articles brings up one of the foremothers of wanting to examine and investigate college rape in depth. “Mary Koss coined the term “date rape” back in the 1980s” (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/11/30/366348383/the-history-of-campus-sexual-assault). Koss has researched and written many articles about sexual assault and rape during her over thirty year career. A most important article to read, even though it was published in 1993, is “Detecting the Scope of Rape: A Review of Prevalence Research Methods” (http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Koss-1993-Detecting-the-Scope-of-Rape-a-review-of-prevalence-research-methods-see-p.-206-last-paragraph.pdf). This is article is important even though it is over twenty years old. Koss discusses how rape victims are treated especially in the line of questioning them when they are interviewed by the rape. Over twenty years ago, Koss writes about briefly the troublesome nature of collegiate institutions dealing with college rape among females because of Title IX. Koss doesn’t directly say it, but the way that many collegiate institutions deal with rape cases is not sending their female collegiate students to the police to report the rape.

The New York Times article “A Majority Agreed She Was Raped by a Stanford Football Player. That Wasn’t Enough” by Joe Drape and Marc Tracy illustrates that history is not repetitive to me but a continued experience that either benefits individuals or cause individuals harm that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives if they are able to survive from that harm. Twenty, thirty years ago, Mary Koss’s work still resonates with us because we haven’t come very far when it comes to collegiate rape on campus. However, what we are seeing, from Drape’s and Tracy’s reporting is that collegiate institutions’ upper level administration create policy or rules that majority benefits the rapist. These policies/rules actually protected the accused and not the accuser. However, it is not shocking that this is new because it isn’t. Rape on college campuses have been going on for several decades. What also has been going on for several decades is the protection of the rapists and humiliation of the rape victim if she or he is found out about.

Stanford illustrates the epitome of rape culture and how collegiate male students are prized more than the female students—and how certain male students are prized more than the average male student as well.

From what we know about Stanford protecting rape culture, the huge case this year was Brock Turner. Brock Turner, with NO SHAME while it was still LIGHT OUT raped a fellow female student who was under the influenced of alcohol. During the on-going months, Turner wasn’t thrown in jail. He wasn’t condemned for his crime. When the dust settled, Turner was indicted on five charges:

  • Rape of an intoxicated person
  • Rape of an unconscious person
  • Assault with the intent to rape an intoxicated person with a foreign object
  • Sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object
  • Sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object

Yet, Turner was sentenced on three charges: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

HOWEVER, Turner’s punishment was six months in Santa Clara County jail followed by three years of probabtion. However, after three months of serving his sentence, he was released from jail.

Although Stanford “punished” him, I believe that they were forced to because the case was a nationwide case. The extent of what Turner did couldn’t be ignored, BUT the institution still wants to protect its accused rapists.

In “A Majority Agreed,” the football player in question is not suspended from school or playing football because he is under “investigation.” His football coach shared that he was never told by Stanford officials that his football player was involved in a rape. The accuser decided not to go to police because she didn’t want to handle the trauma of how the police would investigate the rape (Koss discusses this in her “Detecting the Scope of Rape” how rape accusers have a difficult time in wanting to report to the police because of how they are questioned differently than the accused—and this is why Koss discusses the need of how police interview accusers because the way that they use language in questioning about the rape can disarm rape victims in how they answer their questions). Instead, this is what happened:

“Seeking to avoid the trauma of a police investigation, the accuser turned to the university’s in-house disciplinary board, one of many college campuses that adjudicate sexual assault cases, and it would decide whom to believe. If the panel had found that sexual assault had taken place, the man could have been expelled.

Both times, three of the five panelists—drawn from a pool of administrators, faculty members and students—concluded that the man, who remained on the football team through the case and is on the roster for a bowl game Friday, committed sexual assault.

At many schools, this simple majority vote would have been enough to find the accused responsible. But Stanford had set an uncommonly high bar, requiring at least a 4-1 decision.

This year, amid growing dissent over how it handles these kinds of cases, Stanford changed its procedure in a way that victims’ rights advocates say favors the accused. It now requires a unanimous verdict from a three-member board, making it an outlier among prestigious universities. Only one other school (Duke) in U.S. News & World Report’s list of the country top 20 colleges that use such panels has such a stringent requirement (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/sports/football/stanford-football-rape-accusation.html).

As Koss says briefly, collegiate institutions policies are there to protect the rapists not the accuser and let me remind you that she said this over twenty years ago.

Not much has changed over twenty years has it?

My reasons for focusing on the timespan is for readers out there who may think that we have made significant strides in rape culture. That perpetrators are being held to the highest punishment standards. They aren’t. Rape culture is acceptable because, historically, perpetrators haven’t been punished largely. When Koss started her research in the 1980s, she had college rapists flat out admit that they were having sex with their female counterparts without consent, but they did not think of it as a crime. They also normalized it and said that it is acceptable to have sex with their female peers without having their consent.

All collegiate institutions in America need to continue evaluating why they are protecting sexual predators/male rapists. Maybe it is because upper administration, some faculty, and undergraduate students, and graduate students don’t see that one single act can deem an individual as a sexual predator or rapists. Let me tell you about having to live with someone else who has been raped. It is HEARTBREAKING. The rape victim, the rape victor, the rape accuser is the one who has to live with what happened to him or her, and it is usually women this happens to. And that’s not all. By alarming rates, Black women are more liked to be raped on a college campus than white women. White males are usually the perpetrators that get away with raping their female counterparts. Any man of color who commits in collegiate crime is more likely to be named in the newspaper, BUT White male perpetrators identities are SHIELDED from any crimes. If anything, their future aspirations and their identities are protected on campus like they were the ones who were raped.

My mother’s rapists got off scot-free. Her rapists were Black men. Rape in the Black community runs mostly prevalent within the community itself. Black women are told to protect Black men because Black people in general have been exploited many atortrious ways in this country. We can’t tell on our fathers, brothers, uncles, male cousins, male friends, male acquitnances, and even male strangers because look at what the BLACK MEN has been through. What about what we Black women have been through?

Academia should be a place where students don’t have to worry about getting harm because of their race, gender, class, or disability. Yet, when the minority is harm, the majority are the ones who benefit from the system as if they were harm.

It also doesn’t help the accuser’s case of accusing the football player of rape when no one gave her a fair shake in the collegiate judicial process:

The woman who agreed to talk about her case described an arduous process that took nearly nine months and, she said, was plagued by several lapses.

On the afternoon of June 25, 2015, the woman, along with her lawyer, took their places at a crowded table inside the Tresidder Memorial Union at Stanford.

Her lawyer was there only for support and was prohibited, under the rules of the proceeding, from guiding her testimony. In the middle of the table was a telephone for the young man to listen to the proceeding. She had about 30 minutes to give her account of what had happened four months earlier.

Afterward, the football player was allowed to email follow-up questions to the panel that they could decide to ask or not.

She began the hearing feeling that the deck was stacked against her. She said that only the night before did she see the accused’s statement for the first time, and that it included new statements from two of his football teammates. She said she had exchanged emails with an administrator in May and June 2015 and “not once” did that administrator “indicate that any other files had been added to the investigation file, nor did she respond to my previous questions regarding the investigation file,” according to her appeal, which included the email exchange with an assistant dean coordinating the process.

When she asked to postpone the hearing so she could ask for redactions of statements that she deemed prejudicial as well as suggest follow-up questions for an investigator to ask the witnesses, she said she was denied without an explanation.

“I was told to stick to the facts on my statement, and I did,” she said. “He was allowed to speculate on why I ‘targeted’ him. His teammates, who were not even involved in that night, basically said he was a great guy and was being punished for consensual sex.”

After listening to his version, she said that she offered follow-up questions to the panel. She said that they did not ask them. The next day she was notified that a majority of the panel agreed with her that a sexual assault had occurred, but the football player would not be given a finding of responsibility.

By then, she said, she had already missed one quarter of school and would eventually miss two. She was, and remains, in therapy and on anxiety medications.

Within days, with the help of a lawyer, she appealed the decision on the grounds that the “investigation process was so inequitable and unfair” that it violated her rights as a victim of sexual assault under Title IX. Along with numerous procedural errors, she said, she was bothered that the man’s status as a football player was injected into the proceedings by him and his teammates.

Mr. Etchemendy, the provost, insisted there was no special treatment for athletes or anyone else. Despite two 3-2 rulings that the football player had committed sexual assault, Mr. Etchemendy said, the coach of the football team would not have been notified because the player had not been found responsible. The player apparently received no punishment.

It is important for me to include the accuser’s narrative because of her struggle to gain justice in her situation. Her narrative is a clear example of what I’ve been fleshing out—Stanford’s policies do not work in fair favor for the accuser. They work more for the accused. Within the process, there was favoritism provide for him and not her. We see in her narrative that she is already put on the firing squad without even having a fair chance to narrative her experience, but the accused is able to narrative his experience and even have two of his football team member vouched for his character. Stanford administration told her to stick to the facts and didn’t provide her a chance to postpone the hearing to ask for redactions of statement and to question the accused statements. Instead, Stanford administration told her to “stick with the facts.” The Provost also said that wasn’t any special treatment for athletes. Well, Dr. Etchemendy, what do you call the accuser not being able to have the same agency when she wanted to question her accused statements, but the accused was allowed to do it?

And what kind of impact these policies and procedures have on the accuser? You will find below:

After the second five-member panel came back 3-2, the accuser appealed again. She asked that Stanford’s Office of Community Standards “issue a no-contact order to protect me” from the accused. One had been in place throughout the months of proceedings. On at least two occasions, the football player had to be asked to leave parties by a resident dean — and on another, by campus security — because of his apparently violating that order, both the accuser and the accused acknowledged in statements.

“The past nine months of my life have been the worst of my life,” she wrote to Greg Boardman, Stanford’s vice provost for student affairs, on Oct. 20, 2015, as part of her appeal. “I’ve experienced fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and hatred in ways I never imagined during the first 20 years of my life. An introduction to someone new in early February turned into my worst nightmare — every woman’s worst nightmare.”

Her appeal for a third hearing and a no-contact order was denied, without explanation.

Stanford said that it accommodates accusers even after their cases come up short. They can secure special housing arrangements or even escorts to certain parts of campus. But officials said that they could not impose anything that looked like penalties, even for safety reasons, on those who are found not responsible — even if the vote found by 3-2 or, now, 2-1 that sexual assault had occurred.

“I think you would face legal liability to that person if after that process he was told, ‘You can’t be in this part of the campus,’” said Ms. Karlan, the law professor who is chairwoman of the sexual assault advisory committee.

The woman is trying to decide whether to return to campus or pursue her degree elsewhere. She said that she loved the school and that she was never happier than in her time there. She is worried about encountering the football player if she returns to campus.

“But do I have to leave Stanford to feel safe?” she said. “I’m certain that this isn’t the way the Title IX process was meant to work.”

 

This is what I know is true. Academia is not doing enough to make sure that those who been harm are vindicated. This young woman is on anxiety medications to help her function daily. This young woman is trying to learn how to live with what has happened to her. For her rapists to get off and have to deal with him prowling around campus, it is an insult and horrendous punishment for her.

Sanford, it is not enough that you accommodate accusers after their cases come up short. Stanford, it is not enough that a young woman who was raped can secure special housing on certain parts of the campus to avoid her perpetuator.

Sanford University upper level administrators, I would deem you at the perpetrators. You continue to perpetuate rape culture by protecting and celebrating toxic masculinity by creating and implementing policies that protect this very said culture. Young women on your campus who raped, and young women who raped all over college campuses, their lives are changed forever. Their confidence, their awareness of their space, and their agency has been negatively modified by individuals who believe that heteronormative masculinity that women not consenting is not rape. In you not punishing this young man, it gives him further fuel that he may do this again and get away with it. Worse yet, he believes that he can step over any group of people who aren’t White, male, and heterosexual and get away with it.

Thanks for not changing but keeping the good old boy’s rape club alive.

SMF

 

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