Time to Get Serious About Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

michigan stateThis is a scary world we’re living in.

A world where sexual assaults and abuse take place, often long before the offenders are punished.  A world where a great number of those assaults and abuse occur on college campuses.  A world where the offenders are often men in positions of power and influence.  A world where those offenders are protected by administrators at those institutions of higher learning.

First there was the debacle at Baylor University.

We all remember the scores of sexual assaults perpetrated by members of the football team, and that no one, including former head coach Art Briles, did anything to stop it.  We also knew how that story ended: Briles, the athletic director, and university president all lost their jobs.  Former  Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford resigned after alleging that Baylor University did not allow her to do her job properly.

Then there was Penn State.

I cringe every time I think about what Jerry Sandusky, former defensive coordinator under Joe Paterno, did to those underprivileged boys.  He used his charitable foundation to sexually assault those young boys dating back to over 20 years!  He was enabled by Paterno and a host of others as they turned a blind eye to Sandusky’s heinous actions.  We also knew what the aftermath of that story was: a legendary turned shamed coach, president getting fired and later sued, and the NCAA hammering the problem JUST SHORT of the “death penalty” (more on the NCAA in a moment).

Now we have Michigan State.

We all know about the Lawrence Nassar, a former university and USA Gymnastics doctor who received a 40- to 175-year sentence in state prison for sexually assaulting female athletes.  The testimonies of several victims during Nassar’s trial, highlighted by Aly Raisman’s moving testimony, are easy to find via Google and YouTube.  And we all know that it has cost former president Lou Anna Simon her job for her role.

But little did we know how pervasive sexual assault has been at Michigan State, as it has gone WELL BEYOND Nassar and his cronies.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” conducted an investigation that has found a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression of allegations of sexual assault by officials ranging from campus police to the Spartan athletic department.  Athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement on yesterday.

That’s not even the worst part.  Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo, have had incidents involving their programs.

At least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women.  Dantonio was said to be involved in handling the discipline in at least one of the cases several years ago.

There were reports of sexual or violent incidents involving members of Izzo’s basketball program, including one report made against a former undergraduate student-assistant coach who was allowed to continue coaching after he had been criminally charged for punching a female student in the face at a bar in 2010.  And that same assistant coach was accused of sexually assaulting a DIFFERENT female student.

I would say that the NCAA needs to step up in its efforts to deter such heinous actions from occurring on other campuses, but I don’t even trust Mark Emmert and Co.  The NCAA president was alerted to 37 reports of alleged sexual assault by Michigan State athletes at a meeting in 2010, soon after he was hired, according to a report in The Athletic.

At this point, you just gotta shake your head.

Institutions of higher learning need to take more steps in eliminating sexual assaults and abuses from happening on their campuses.  They for damn sure need to stop protecting those offenders under the guise of protecting the “integrity” of their sports programs.

We all know that sports are the revenue generators of all colleges, and that some administrators have sold their souls to that cause.  But it’s time for those administrators to start doing right by the victims, because it’s apparent that some coaches sure as hell won’t.

One thing about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements: they are not only pushing past sexual assault/abuse instances to the surface (see Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and others), they are embolding victims and their allies to come forward and speak out.

I have a feeling that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, and that is scary as hell…

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