Rape on College Campus

Should it be handled through the school or in the court?

Fiona Murphy, Torch Writer

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According to a recent survey by the American Association of Universities, 23% of women report having experienced sexual assault while in college. Campus sexual assault has been a hot topic in recent years. It can be repeatedly seen that universities and colleges are not properly handling sexual assault cases, and victims, or even some innocent defendants, are not receiving their due justice. Campus sexual assault is a very real, and very large problem in this day and age, and is something all young women and men should be aware of. Sexual assault and rape is a crime, whether it occurs on a college campus or not. It should thus be handled in a court of law instead of through the school.

Colleges are not equipped to judge cases as severe as those of sexual assault and cannot deliver punishments that fit the severity of the crime.To judge sexual assault cases, most schools hold disciplinary hearings where inexperienced and unqualified teachers and students decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty. These campus tribunals were originally used for issues like cheating and plagiarism but sexual assault and rape is a far more sensitive and serious issue. Sexual assault and rape is a crime, yet in campus tribunals those found guilty of this crime cannot even receive prison sentences. The maximum punishment would be expulsion from the school, allowing criminals to retain their freedom and possibly repeat their crime.

Do you think it is fair for a university to protect a student from being punished for a crime because the school considers that student valuable? It can be repeatedly seen that colleges are acting unethically and covering up assault in order to protect their image or even popular students, such as student athletes. One notable case is that of Jameis Winston, a Florida State University quarterback accused of rape. FSU and their athletic department were aware of the accusation, as they had contacted the police in January of 2013. However, the university allowed Jameis to play the entire football season without answering any questions. Only after winning the Championship game in January of 2014 did university officials finally ask Jameis to discuss the case.

The act that is the basis for campus tribunals, Title IX, calls for a preponderance of evidence, a low standard of proof that could hurt an innocent defendant. Title IX is an act that prevents gender discrimination in educational systems. It states that guilt can only be proven by “a preponderance of evidence”, which means that if it is more than fifty percent likely that crime was committed, the defendant is deemed guilty. Forty-nine percent of the proof can show that the defendant is probably innocent, but he or she will still be deemed guilty. In court, the proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, a standard that requires more evidence to prove guilt.

Some may argue that college sexual assault cases should not be handled in the court of law because the perpetrators are young and this “mistake” shouldn’t be put on their criminal record. This is an unethical argument. Rape is not a mistake, and rapists are fully aware of their actions. If you are guilty of a crime you should face the consequences, whether you are young or old.

This issue can be resolved by pushing for mandatory prosecution of the accused rapists and sexual assaulters in the court of law. If this doesn’t happen, criminals could walk free, or innocent people could be denied their education and branded as sexual assaulters. However, if campus sexual assault and rape cases are handled in the court of law, true justice can be brought to the victims and innocently accused.

Rape is a crime and rapists are criminals. Criminals should always be prosecuted in the court of law. This crime should not be handled through the school because universities are not impartial and cannot deliver severe punishments, some schools protect the accused if the student is valuable, and campus tribunals require a low standard of proof that can deem an innocent person guilty. Be vigilant and support prosecution in the only impartial and fair court there is, the court of law!

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Rape on College Campus