In recent years, the way sexual assault is handled on campus has come under intense scrutiny. At Radford, for example, many people were up in arms about the fact that the school had addressed sexual assaults on campus in a manner that seemed to blame the victim, saying that students should be aware of their surroundings and take preventative measures.
However, a recent sexual assault on campus may show that Radford’s attitude towards sexual violence and misconduct has changed in a positive manner. Students are always alerted to incidents on campus that involve sexual violence, as required by The Clery Act.
In the past, the school has addressed these situations by giving tips on preventative measures, focusing on how students can avoid becoming a victim. This time, the school said in their email to students, “the only person responsible for sexual misconduct is the perpetrator. It is a violation of university policy to engage in sexual activities without affirmative consent from your partner. Someone incapacitated due to alcohol or drugs cannot consent to sexual activity.”
This is a huge change compared to how the situations have been handled in the past. For once, the school addressed the fact that the victim is never to blame. They also made clear that being accused of sexual assault has consequences, expressing that students can be expelled if they’re believed to have committed acts of sexual violence. Recently, a member of the Stanford swim team was caught sexually assaulting a woman on campus. Two students riding bikes saw Brock Allen Turner on top of an intoxicated woman and stopped him, holding him until campus police arrived.
Turner was not only charged for sexual assault, he has also single-handedly ruined his career. Turner was a star athlete on his high school swim team, ranked 10th in the nation. Turner will likely not be allowed to reapply to be a member of USA Swimming, nor will he be able to compete in the Olympic Trials, which are USA Swimming-sanctioned.
This was a kid with a lot of potential and now he’s ruined what could’ve been an amazing and fruitful career. Assuming he’s guilty of the crime, I believe he deserves to have lost that career.
In light of recent events at UVA, Universities are realizing that there needs to be better support for victims, and that victims need to know that what has happened to them isn’t their fault. RU has also made it clear that students will be held accountable for their actions, which is something that hasn’t been done before.
The university also provided helpful statistics on sexual assault, stating, “It is estimated that nationwide 20 percent of women and 6 percent of men experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their college years. Data reveal nearly 50 percent of transgender people experience sexual violence. No matter the demographic, the most common type of sexual assault is not committed by a stranger but by someone known to the victim, typically a date or other acquaintance.”
It’s extremely important that students, and victims, are aware that this is a common occurrence and they’re not alone if they’ve experienced sexual assault. They also need to be made aware that the perpetrator will be punished if the crime is reported.
I’m extremely proud of the way that Radford has handled this situation. It makes me proud to be a Highlander and gives me peace of mind knowing that there’s help for victims, should I or anyone I know become one. I feel safe knowing that the university sincerely cares about the well-being of their students and won’t tolerate any actions which could harm them.