College Sports Must Take a Stand Against Sexual Assaults

CourtCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2008

Let me start off by giving you my credentials.  I am a college student and RA (resident assistant) at an Iowa University, and I am also an advocate for the victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

I write this article in complete disgust at how the University of Iowa has handled its most recent rape charge against three U of Iowa football players.  The victim was also a U of I athlete.

My experience with college athletes is small, but it's enough to know that some athletes at the college level believe that they are above the law for the simple fact that they are college athletes, and they receive perks from the athletic department for that fact alone.  They do, in fact, take easier courses and receive more help with classes so that they can remain on the roster and on the field.

I will give athletes at the college level this nod: Their commitment to their sport is beyond anything I've seen.  I know this because for a whole school year I was assigned as the RA of a primarily all-athlete floor.

The University of Iowa mishandled everything because they kept this heinous crime within the university, with the aim to protect it and the three men who put on the black and gold helmet on Saturday afternoons.  This was by far, from an advocate's point of view, the greatest mistake.

In the world of DV and SA, blame is never placed on the victim.  Yet by keeping the investigation in-house and by not taking protective measures to protect the victim, they placed the victim in the same dorm, same floor, and only three doors away from her perpetrator.

In my line of work as an Advocate, I work with victims and lay out their options before them, and also support them in the decisions that they make.  In the incident at the U of Iowa, the father was the advocate.  ONLY A TRAINED ADVOCATE CAN ADVOCATE, and all victims are entitled to an advocate—but the U of Iowa did not make that clear to the victim.

Dad cannot be an advocate because he has a conflict of interest, and his responsibility is as a dad first.  In addition, he is not educated in the field and cannot know how to advocate.

I also want to take offense to the words of a local radio host who blamed the victim for being drunk, wearing seductive clothing, and being with these men at 2:30 in the morning.  The victim is never to blame—EVER.  It is not illegal to be drunk, nor to be with who she was with at 2:30 in the morning.

However, the act of the alleged rape was against the law—yet this radio talk show host failed to understand that point.  NO means NO in every aspect of the very simple two-letter word.

Another question being raised by people in the state of Iowa is, how drunk do you have to be before you can't give consent?  First, why the hell does that matter, and second, why risk it?  The penalty for rape in any degree is so huge, why risk it?

Now I want to switch gears and approach this from a normal college student's standpoint.

As I sit, I just signed a loan agreement for an ungodly amount of money for just one year of school.  I am sick and tired of seeing college athletes break the law, yet have the backing of the athletics department.  More times than not, they are under scholarship, using my tax dollars to break the law.

I have met Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz, and he seemed like a nice guy, but he has continued to recruit players who have no respect for the law.  Just this past week, a new recruit, 19 years old and just about ready to report to camp, was arrested when he ran from the cops after he was caught drinking.  (I know the reality of underage drinking.)

The bottom line is, winning has become everything, to the point that we have lost sight of what our little league coaches told us growing up: "Let's go out and win, but let's have fun doing it."

Put me on record as saying I would rather have a losing record every year than watch a large percentage of the team that I grew up loving, and most people in the state would have loved or would love to play for, get kicked off and arrested for crimes so stupid and so wrong as rape.