Brock Turner's sentence is one of the best things that can happen to universities

Brock Turner's sentence is one of the best things that can happen to universities

CultureSeptember 07, 2016 By Anna Turner

In light of last month’s back-to-school shenanigans and the recent release of college rapist Brock Turner, it’s time to take a closer look at the real issue with sexual assault on college campuses ... a disturbing issue that, of all the rape and sexual assault cases nation-wide, public enemy Brock Turner is part of the .06 percent of defendants that actually serve jail time.

Calling bullshit? Here are some facts:

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, it's estimated that 1 in 5 college females are sexually assaulted every year.

Of all of these sexual crimes, less than 5 percent are reported.

Of this unreported 5 percent, less than one-fifth (or 17 percent) of those crimes were reported by universities for the academic year of 2014/15. In other words, when universities submit their reports to the Clery Act — an annual account of sexual assaults on campuses nationwide — they are reporting a bare minimum of the actual rape incidents that occur. The worst part is very few of those cases ever go to trial, and the ones that do, very rarely see jail time.

Brock Turner’s three-month prison stint is more justice than a vast majority of college rapists will ever encounter.

Whether intentional or not, it seems our secondary education system has a major issue with sexual assault. Not just the fact that our college party culture encourages this type of behavior, but because the powers that be do very little to discourage it. You can hold rallies and support groups all year, light candles, send letters filled with hope and even have a dance marathon to raise funds for abuse victims, but until universities start pressing charges or supporting the victims in pressing charges, these statistics are going to get far, far worse.

If there’s no punishment for a crime, was it really a crime at all? And if universities aren’t encouraging proper punishment for sexual assault, do they even view it as a criminal act?

Colleges and universities are money-making machines. Sure, they’re academic institutions, but take a look at their nuts and bolts and you’ll see that it all boils down to the size of its bank accounts. Every t-shirt sold in the bookstore, every meal bought with a student meal plan, every 10 cents spent at the library printer making last minute copies of a report — it all goes into that big piggy bank fueling academia. The biggest cash cow for public universities (second biggest for private institutions) is, of course, tuition.

It's important for a college to attract a large freshmen class with fat tuition checks, not because they can open more young minds to the vast horizon of secondary education, but because they get a bigger payout. So, if a college is unappealing in any way, that payout is going to drop.

One way to make a college unappealing is to report nearly 1,600 sexual assaults (an estimated 280 of which would be rape, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics), that will occur on or around campus within the academic year, statistically speaking. 

This is true of my college, Miami University of Ohio, where 8,000 of the 15,000-odd students are females. Miami, however, reports that in the 2013/14 academic year (most recent data available), 18 sexual offenses were committed — and two of those were reported as “unfounded,” or baseless.

Eighteen. Sexual offenses. TOTAL. When statistically it would be closer to 1,600 sexual assaults, 280 of which are considered, by law, rape.

For a female incoming student about to drop $40,000,18 sexual assaults sounds a lot better than 1,600. Doesn't it? 

In Miami’s Crime Statistics report, they don’t even include sexual offenses in their categories for arrests made. The only arrests listed are for drug, alcohol or liquor law violations. This, to me, communicates that sexual offenses aren’t even considered important enough to list if there were any arrests or not.

According to a Miami Campus Security employee (who wished to have their name withheld), the school is not required to disclose arrests made for sexual offenses, so they don’t. Unfortunately, this isn’t unique to Miami.

Like, you guyyysssss ... come on. This is embarrassing. I have to tell people I graduated from Miami, and now this shit?

Yet, there's no claim here that Miami withholds certain information. As mentioned, they don’t have to disclose the arrest count or record. Furthermore, I'm not stating as fact that Miami, or any other university, under-report crime statistics to enhance their appeal for incoming undergraduates, thus making more money on tuition. A claim like that can't be supported by any backing evidence. The numbers, however, just don't add up.

But, I’m also not NOT claiming that universities seem to be ignoring or belittling the widespread sexual abuse that occurs to college students on every campus.

Case in point, just this summer, Worcester Polytechnic University tried claiming a rape victim, also a student, was partially responsible for being raped because she was involved with “risky behavior.” The man who raped her? Hired by the university ... as a security guard.

Worcester Polytechnic University isn’t the only one devaluing victims. Brock Turner’s father wrote a letter to his son’s judge, claiming the sentence was too harsh for only “20 minutes of action.” That’s what he reduced the woman’s entire worth to, “20 minutes of action” for his son. Which points to an issue even larger than universities’ maltreatment and misunderstanding of sexual assault: The justice system doesn’t seem to get it either.

According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), out of 1,000 rapes in a year, 344 are reported to the police. Of those, 63 assailants are arrested. Thirteen will be given to prosecutors, 7 of those 13 will get felony convictions, and 6 of those 7 will receive prison time.

Brock Turner was 1 of those 6 ... out of a thousand.

But at least he went to prison, unlike the 99.4 percent that walk free with no ramifications for their actions, at all — while their victims are left broken.

The more of those that happen, with students holding the schools they pay big money to accountable, the safer and more just our campuses will be.