It used to be that going to college was not an issue of safety, but one of getting a higher education, transitioning from teen to adult and gaining a foot up on the future. Now it's become one of concern for personal safety.
These are but a few examples of what can only be called a spate of harmful incidents reported by HuffPo:
Alyssa Palazzo woke up just after midnight on Oct. 5, 2012, as someone screamed outside her residence hall at the University of Connecticut.
It was UConn running back Lyle McCombs, who Palazzo said was yelling, spitting and hitting his girlfriend. A few young men she believed to be his roommates stood by and watched, she said. Palazzo called police, and McCombs was arrested and charged that night with a misdemeanor, second-degree breach of peace.
After reading that, I then read this in a separate HuffPo article:
Two former Amherst College students who said they had been raped at the school in Massachusetts filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, accusing the school of improper responses that one woman said included sending her to a psychiatric ward. Six current and former students at Vanderbilt University also filed Education Department complaints, saying the school in Nashville, Tenn., failed to properly respond to their reports of sex crimes or harassment. One said the university pressured her to allow the school to handle a stalking complaint, but failed to take action against the accused stalker.
Campus violence against women and men happens. It shouldn't, but it does. So it's the school's response to these attacks that is very important. Forcing a victim into a psych ward because she was attacked while letting the assailant go free doesn't seem to be sending the right message? Something's wrong here.
In the UConn case, the accused, McCombs, was given a warning by the school and placed on probation. But it didn't end there. He was a member of the school's football team, so his coach on the Huskies team was assigned the task of further discipline.
UConn football head coach Paul Pasqualoni decided the next day that McCombs' punishment for violating team rules would be sitting on the bench for 15 minutes.
Hardly even a hand slap for the attacker.
But what about the young woman who was attacked? She left school. And what about the girl who witnessed and reported the attack? She appealed to UConn for help.
Palazzo complained that she had to live in the same building as McCombs (the attacker) for the rest of the school year. "What about my safety?" she asked.
Palazzo said that the administrator replied, "If you feel unsafe, then you shouldn’t say anything at all."
What? She shouldn't have reported the attack? If I'm being assaulted I hope someone will call 911. What is this, the Kitty Genovese tragedy all over again?
As for the UConn football coach with the 15 minute timeout punishment, he went merrily along for another two years, despite another sexual assault charge against one of his players the following year. The kid got no punishment, not even the timeout.
So sexual crimes have no bearing on the university's disciplinary actions, especially when it's committed by a football star. Maybe sports put you outside the reach of justice. Ah, but then karma rears it's fateful head. This season, when the UConn football team started this season 0-4, the coach was fired.
What's the message here--everything's okay when you're winning? Allowing players to get away with these attacks is deemed appropriate? But lose the first four games of the season and the school will have you sh**-canned.
Now quickly back to the Amherst and Vanderbilt attacks. Perhaps justice was done there. Sorry, no dice. No charges were made against the assailants. One of the female victims did receive the school's full attention. She was forced against her will into the psych ward at the school's hospital while her attackers went free.
There is a campus sexual violence epidemic. And sadly the message UConn, Amherst and Vandy are sending is clear -- If you can't do the time, don't report the crime.
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