Gender and Sexuality Column

Brock Turner case should remind SU to face reality

/ The Daily Orange

This column is part of a dual Gender and Sexuality series answering the question: “How can SU administrators improve response to sexual assault, in the face of Brock Turner?” It is a response to Turner being released from prison earlier this month after serving just three months of his six-month sentence on a rape charge. Turner got out early on “good behavior.”

This case first came into the public eye after BuzzFeed published an open letter in June by the Stanford University student who Brock Turner was found to have raped. The high-profile nature of the case could be heard from Palo Alto to Syracuse.

The noise surrounding this issue elicited screams from advocates of women’s rights and silence from everyone else. In a system that does more to protect perpetrators than survivors of sexual assault, it’s no surprise that Syracuse University is not immune to the effects of rape culture.

The Brock Turner story is not an isolated incident of rapists swimming through the justice system unscathed. In light of an ongoing federal investigation of a sexual assault case that’s said to have been mishandled on the SU campus, it’s important that the university strengthens its response. The university should be upfront about these cases instead of sacrificing students’ well-being in what could be perceived as an effort to maintain a pristine public image.

Turner is neither the first nor the last rapist to roam the halls of a university. If schools continue to turn a blind eye to assault on campus, it gives the Brock Turners of the world the idea that they are untouchable. This breach in justice will lead to a vicious cycle: rapists will feel like violating others will not engender any serious repercussions because the law is in their favor.

As SU heads into its own investigation, it should learn from Stanford’s recent mistakes and be sure not to repeat them. Whether it’s with faculty, staff or students, the last thing that the university should allow is for members of its community to feel unsafe in their own home, even when it’s dark.

Rape is an ugly act and cannot go unnoticed, but even more gut-wrenching is how the justice system and universities fail survivors of sexual assault. Just because the issue is not openly discussed does not mean it does not exist. It will persist as long as universities suppress their reaction.

A lengthy prison sentence does not undo the trauma of sexual assault. But at the very least, we expect that SU will stand by us and protect us in the face of a rapidly growing rape culture on college campuses across the country.

Ivana Pino is a sophomore political science major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at ivpino@syr.edu.

 

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