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College Culture

I know I don’t get into posts of a serious nature very often, but this past weekend, I watched in horror for an hour as 20/20 aired the story of the former Vanderbilt football players charged with rape and sexual assault. The show had acquired the security video footage from the dorm (where I actually lived my sophomore year on the same floor) on the night in question. To say it is disturbing is a gross understatement. And the two men on trial this time (two more are also charged) were both found guilty on multiple accounts.

I’m not going to go into the details of the case – my stomach can’t handle to think about the details – but this situation raises some serious questions. The only reason these men were charged were because the security footage from the dorm just happened to be reviewed for another, unrelated incident. The victim, sadly, had absolutely no recollection of anything that happened – and the main man was the guy she was dating, whom she trusted fully.

I applaud Vanderbilt for the way this situation was handled (at least to the extent I’m aware of, obviously). The men involved were removed from the football team and the university as soon as the realization of what happened came to light. The investigation was handed over to the Metro-Nashville Police Department as soon as foul play was suspected. Unfortunately this is not the norm. More often than not, females are assaulted, may or may not report the assault, and action may or may not be taken. This is a serious issue that college campuses need to address and need to address with more than a university review board. And the way to address this is not by simply “educating” females. Sure, education is helpful, but what about the men? Quotes such as this one by a writer from the Washington Times are absolutely enraging:

“One of the best ways to end sexual violence on campus is to teach women not to put themselves in a position where this can happen. Don’t drink to the point you are so intoxicated that you cannot protect yourself or you pass out.”

What about the men who drink to the point that they cannot control their actions, then use that, sometimes successfully, as an excuse? Or how about this girl who was with a guy she knew and trusted? I don’t have an answer. The obvious underlying issue, in this situation and many others that have been in the news recently, is alcohol, but we have to stop accepting the excuse that this is just college culture. And banning alcohol is not the solution – it’s actually an anti-solution.

Does it start with education from our parents, how we are raised? Is it education on the university side, on the greek life side or athletic side? Is it a combination of all of it or will none of it help? I truly wish I had an answer because I am tired of hearing these stories on the regular. The hope is that this case in Nashville (I refuse to keep calling it the ‘Vanderbilt rape case’) will set a new precedent for these crimes – guilty convictions, lives ruined, and serious jail time. One positive step – one of the guys is talking to Dr. Phil about this issue – this “culture.” It hasn’t aired yet, but it sounds like he’s being a man and not only owning up to his colossal mistake, but also trying to help others to not fall into the pits of this culture – but we’ll have to wait and watch.

The bottom line is that colleges and universities, along with the cities and towns in which they are located, better be working on some kind of solution and plan to address these issues or the news will sadly continue to be flooded with similar stories. And I pray that this does not become just another issue that the nation becomes immune to.