Colleges across the country have come under intense scrutiny for their mishandling of sexual assault cases to maintain their “spotless” reputations in the public eye. While some accused students do get prosecuted, they often receive lenient sentences or are not convicted at all. Before arriving to Geneseo in August, I only had a passive awareness of the danger of sexual assault on college campuses. Now, however, I am more aware of the issue due to constant news coverage of campus sexual assaults and controversies.
Many sexual assault cases from other colleges are dismissed for no viable reasons other than the college needing to protect their reputation from a scandal. For example, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York cleared a group of football players of all charges after they were accused of gang raping a freshman girl in 2013. Those same football players went on to win a football conference for Hobart undefeated and were essentially immune from administrative discipline.
This happened only an hour away from Geneseo—and many people reading this article probably never heard about this incident.
Many colleges like Hobart will offer no explanation for the dropped charges. The Hobart case found physical evidence and eyewitness accounts that linked the football players to the assault. In the eyes of the college, however, reputation and winning the football conference were more important than delivering justice for a sexual assault victim.
This blatant disrespect toward victims is, unfortunately, quite common for colleges. This abuse of power, total disregard of evidence and completely emotionless attitude toward victims is not what should be considered normal in modern society. These mistreated cases are a disappointment to America’s supposed “greatness.”
Additionally, Brigham Young University in Utah set a new low for college sexual assault policy. A woman who reported a sexual assault was expelled from the school in 2014 and her case was never investigated. The college claimed the woman violated the school’s Honor Code, which prohibits “engaging in on- and off-campus activities such as drug and alcohol use, premarital sex and … going into the bedroom of someone of the opposite gender.”
These are the type of human rights violations that many victims face when they go through colleges to report sexual assault. Many college’s priorities are so skewed that they put their own reputation before the justice for and peace of mind of sexual assault survivors.
A university’s precious standings and reputation are the real reason behind their mishandling of rape cases. To them, luring more students to apply to their school matters more than expelling accused rapists. The prestige of athletic programs or alumni donations hold more sway than the safety of the students.
It is our generation that will decide how sexual assault cases will be handled in the future. All students should feel enraged about these incidents and fight to ensure sexual offenders face appropriate consequences. We want to be proud of the colleges we go to, not feel unsafe or suspicious of what incidents they may have covered up.