Foot-dragging universities must take violence seriously

May 12, 2014 

You wouldn’t think that anyone would have to tell the adults who oversee the nation’s colleges and universities that sexual assault is a traumatic physical violation that must be handled swiftly, seriously and with sensitivity.

You wouldn’t think that young women and men who allegedly have been raped by classmates would have their accusations trivialized, whitewashed and almost cavalierly dismissed by university authorities.

You wouldn’t think that the White House would have to weigh in on this.

But here we are.

The White House rightly felt compelled to bring the weight of federal law to the issue — specifically, Title IX’s anti-discrimination provisions — in the wake of increasing outrage over how some universities have put their reputations ahead of the safety of their own students.

First and foremost, rape is a crime. Administrators must keep that in mind. Instead, they’ve wasted time backpedaling from that reality, going so far as to rebrand rape — such an off-putting term! — as “nonconsensual sex.” This is insulting revisionism, political correctness at its worst, not worthy of these institutions.

At the same time, many incidents are complicated by the fact that for eons, young college men and women have studied, socialized and slept together. That’s not going to change. But there is a new generation of young men for whom it needs to be made clear that “No” indeed means “No” — and that there will be real and serious consequences for proven, criminal violations.

There is also a new generation of women that needs to learn that binge drinking, a sorry bit of “fun” in which more and more college women are engaging, might make them popular with the guys, but also might turn them into targets for the men they think are friends — and who are just as stupid drunk, mean drunk or both.

Is that a step away from blaming the victim, as some advocates say? Of course not. Those same adults who would counsel a young woman to use birth control, park in a lighted area at night and not pick up hitchhikers couldn’t possibly be implying that they would leave “don’t get drunk and pass out” off their do-not-do list, could they?

Universities, much like the military, are on notice that sexual assault is a serious and debilitating issue that must be confronted head-on.

The Miami Herald

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