A University Epidemic

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This will be a short post, on a national epidemic.

We just watched a HBO Vice segment on Rape on College Campuses. If you don’t watch Vice and you get HBO, I would highly recommend watching each and every one. Together with The Daily Show, it is the best news program on the tube. Vice is serious investigative reporting, and exposes many aspects of stories that are lost in other reporting. Get to know them at http://www.Vice.com.

But to the subject of one of their latest segments, Rape and Sexual Assault on Campus.

Rape is one of those issues to which there is no other side. Rape is horrific, taking what should be an act of love and wonderful pleasure and turning it into a lasting nightmare for the victim. It is diabolical. No debate on that. And Campus Rapes are more frequent today. Here’s a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campus_rape. Many if not all academic institutions handle accusations of Rape and Sexual Assault with their own internal investigative processes and adjudication systems.

So why can’t the Universities and Colleges get it right?

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way. Yes, there are fraudulent accusations of Rape. The Rolling Stone hoax and the Duke Lacrosse cases are witness to that. I am not talking about “he said, she said” cases. I’m talking about deliberate hoaxes and planned frauds for personal gain and notoriety. Unfortunately, those fraudulent accusations taint the real cases. Anyone who deliberately commits fraud like this should be prosecuted.

I’ve watched enough Law and Order and Special Victims Unit episodes to know how notoriously difficult it is for professional police detectives and lawyers to successfully investigate and prosecute a rape case. The academic internal investigative processes and adjudication systems are clearly not up to the task. That’s why we have police and courts.

When I was growing up in Phoenix, the Salt River Project provided both Gas and Electricity for Central Arizona, just as with PG&E in the SF Bay Area. SRP had an ad campaign back in the 60s: Use Gas for what it does best, and Electricity for what it does best. We had an electric stove back then, and have gas stove today. Gas is the right tool for a stove, hands down.

So in this case, let’s use the tools we have to bring the Campus Rape epidemic under control. Naturally even one Rape is too many, but as long as “Evil lurks in the hearts of Men” (and Women) the crime will continue. But we can do far, far better.

Mandatory Reporters

As a way to deal with the despicable crimes of abuse of any kind against children, seniors and the disabled, many legal entities have created a class of people known as Mandatory Reporters. These are those who positions (paid or volunteer) bring them into frequent contact with the groups that can be victimized, such as teachers, health care workers, clergy, etc. In many U.S. jurisdictions–with the exception of attorney-client and priest-penitent relationships–when a Mandatory Reporter is told of, observes or suspects abuse, they are legally required to report this to the Police. The professionals can then investigate.

I suggest that we now extend the Mandatory Report concept to Campus Rape, and make all administrators, board members, employees and volunteers at a University Mandatory Reporters for Rape and Sexual Assault connected in any way with their institutions. If the charge is not referred to the local police (not the campus police) in a timely manner, the Mandatory reporter can be prosecuted.

Some universities and colleges say they handle these cases internally, because the standard of proof is so high in court. That’s fine. They could continue to hold parallel processes. It’s like a civil suit vs a criminal trial, as far as I can see. If the justice system fails to indict a rapist, but the University is quite certain that rape occurred, expel the rapist.

What Academic Institutions do well is teach. Let them continue and increase the relationship and sex workshops I presume are routine nowadays for all entering students. Teach students how to respect one another, and protect one another. Teach about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse and the connection with rape, and promote responsibility and ethics. Let the police and courts handle their part when a crime may have been committed.

I hope that my classmates, friends and students who are lawyers will give constructive criticism on my observations.

Etymology of the word, Rape

One final linguistic note, not meant to mitigate anything said above, but to show changing social mores. Mores, sadly unused today is from the Latin mos, moris, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *mō-*mē- (endeavour, will, temper). It means custom, usage, wont, and rule. Its most famous use is probably from Cicero’s Cataline Orations:

O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit, consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit?

Shame on the age and on its principles! The senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this man lives. Lives?

Thank you Father Brill for the fact that I and my classmates can read Cicero’s words!

Rape comes from the Latin rapio, rapere, rapui, raptus which means to carry away by force, grab, and abduct. It comes from Proto-Italic *rapyō, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rep-.

For the Romans, seizing and abducting a woman was raptus, a crime whether or not intercourse occurred. By the 14th century in Western Europe, rape mean to seize and carry off. We still see this in terms and titles: rape and pillage, The Rape of the Sabine Women, and The Rape of the Lock (about the theft of a lock of hair). An associated term is Rapine, from Middle English and Old French, from Latin rapīna, from rapiō.

Even as late as the writing of the longest running musical in history, Off-Broadway’s The Fantasticks in 1960, rape could mean abduction. El Gallo, a character in the play who is hired by the parents to abduct Luisa, told of various abduction styles, using the term rape, and it is featured in a song. It basically meant a romantic abduction, without sex. As times changed, the authors put out alternatives to the book (the dialog of a play) using “abduction” and “raid.”

Today, Rape does not mean romantic abduction.  There is one connection, however, to the old meaning. Rape takes away dignity, joy, security and many other things from its victims. It is evil and must be combatted.


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