I graduated from Baylor University with my undergraduate
and Masters degrees in social work in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
I sat in the stands almost religiously as Art Briles led our
bears to win after win, and I felt a sense of pride that our
university had a high profile leader like Ken Starr.
Im a highly competitive person, and watching our
football team rise from being the joke of the Big 12 to
being a National power house was intoxicating.
I would give up all of those wins now.
If you exist on the internet it has been difficult to miss the
reporting on the sexual assault scandal that has rocked
the university. Several Baylor student-athletes were accused
of rape and sexual assualt, and the evidence suggest that the
athletics department and the university as a whole knew about
these accusations and either ignored or intentionally made
efforts to cover them up so that these players could
continue to dominate out on the field. In incidents
involving non student athletes, the university was accused of
failing to implement Title IX procedures appropriately by
failing to provide support in the form of counseling and
class accomodations to victims, and also faced accusations
of failing to properly investigate accusations and discouraging
victims from moving forward in the reporting process.
As a result of this, Baylor hired Pepper-Hamilton,
an independent law firm, to conduct an investigation into
Baylor's handling of sexual assault allegations on campus.
While the full report has yet to be released, the summary of
findings that was released following the news of the university
firing Art Briles and removing Ken Starr as president
(he was kept on as Chancellor, but would later resign)
is damming. University administration was found to be
knowledgable of these assaults and did nothing about them.
The athletic department was found to have intervened in
investigations by contacting victims and their families.
Much of the coverage of this scandal has focused specifically
on the reporting about the athletic departments involvement,
and has accused the university of prioritizing the glory of
our athletics department over the saftey of the general population.
This same message has been resonating from another high profile
case that has been highly publicized in the media:
The Brock Turner Sexual Assault Case.
For those of you unfamiliar with this case,
Brock Turner, a student-athlete at Stanford, was found guilty
of 3 felony counts of sexual assault a few weeks ago.
Two students witnessed him on top of a naked and unconscious
woman behind a dumpster, and tackled and held him until
authorities could arrive.
Despite eye witness testimony,
and 3 felony convictions, Brock was sentenced to
just 6 months in county jail, which will be reduced to 3
with good behavior.
The sentencing in this case is nothing short of a slap in the
face to the victim herself and victims everywhere, and the media
reporting and sentencing itself have been flooded with the
undertones of "student athletes are above the law."
Many articles about this case discuss in more details
this man, A CONVICTED RAPIST's, swimming times
than they do the autrocity which he commited that
shot him into the public eye to begin with.
Rather than a mug-shot, many articles are posted
with his face beaming in a suit from his school
year book photo.
In this country, it is estimated that more than
half of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported to authorities.
If you look at the reporting of both the Baylor scandal and the
Brock Turner case it is not difficult to see why.
Reporting is an incredibly exhausting experience for survivors,
as you can see detailed in the Stanford Victims impact statement.
SANE exams are incredibly invasive, with photos taken of your
most private areas, while being swabbed and prodded for
evidence. Then there are the police interviews which are
historically not met with the most sensitivity and often
can lead to more trauma for the victim, when faced with
What were you wearing?
Were you drinking?
How much did you drink?
Could you have done anything to make him
think you wanted to have sex with him?
All of which have the undertone of
what did you do to bring this upon yourself?
But in the Stanford Case we had a victim who did
everything right. She endured the medical examinations,
police interviews, and over a year long trial process, and
STILL it wasn't enough.
I am happy with the cries for justice I have seen from social
media in the past weeks, but am distrubed by the response
to the in-house scandal by my Baylor family.
Many people have been outraged at the removal
of Art Briles from the position of head coach,
praising him as "the best thing to happen to the
athletic department in decades" which is hard to deny,
but if you are making these cries, demanding his return,
you still don't get it.
In any other situation,
someone who was found to be complicit in
rape and sexual assault would not be hailed as a hero
with hundreds begging for his return.
He would be in jail.
In any other situation,
someone caught in the act of sexually assualting
an unconscious woman behind a dumpster would
not have people jumping to his defence and
mourning the promising future he had infront of him.
He wouldn't have recieved a slap on the wrist
of 3-6 months in county jail,
he would be in prison for years.
As long as we continue to keep the focus on
the achievements of these men, we continue to
silence survivors. We continue to tell women that
their experience doesnt matter because its not worth
points on a scoreboard or a shiny trophy.
We tell them that they don't matter as much as our
own entertainment and desire to win do.
And we should all be ashamed of this.
I will admit the outcome of the Brock Turner case
and the findings of the Pepper-Hamilton report have been
deeply troubling me since I first read them. The only
way I know how to describe what I feel is
unharnessed rage. Deep, consuming rage.
I am outraged by the posts I see crying more
heavily for the football teams future than for justice
for our students at Baylor.
I am outraged at letters posted by Brock Turners
father and friends, crying out for "20 mins of
action" to not define the rest of his life, when those
20 minutes will impact his victim irrevocably for the
course of hers.
I am outraged that we live in a society where a judge
can hand down a sentence of 3-6months in a county
jail for 3 felony charges that carry up to 14 years in
prison because "a heavier sentence would have
a severe impact on [the perpetrator]."
Because I dont give a damn about the impact on the perpetrator
or the football team or the university administration.
I care about the impact on the victims,
on their lives which have forever been changed, and are
now being met with indifference.
I have never been so happy that the teenage women
I work with do not have access to the internet, because I know
in my heart that I could not look them in the eye,
too many of them survivors themselves,
and tell them that a 3-6month jail sentence is all
that their suffering is worth to our society. That the
loss of the person they were before, who many survivors grieve
in the aftermath after realizing that they can never be the
same person again, is not valued in our society over
athleticism and glory. That their pain is worth nothing
in comparison to the futures of our young men.
Im not usually one to write on the social media battle
of the day. I dont care to argue about a lion, or a gorilla,
or any of that nonsense, but justice for our women is worth
throwing my hat in the ring. 3-6 months is not justice.
A few football losses is not penance enough.
And if we cant see that, we are just as much
a part of the problem as those handing down rulings