Universities must create ‘zero-tolerance policies’ for students’ safety

Julieta Rodrigo // Staff Writer

Former Stanford University student and swimmer Brock Turner became a household name after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015 and receiving a relatively light prison sentence.

The victim released a gut-wrenching statement that drew the attention of millions around the nation and worldwide.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me,” she said to Turner during trial, “and that’s why we’re here today.”

In March 2016, the jury found Turner guilty of three felony counts: “assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.”

Turner only served three months in prison and was released in September 2016 to serve three years of probation at home.

His sentencing also includes attending counseling for a minimum of one year, where his distorted views of sex and relationships with others will be psychologically examined and treated.

Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci recommended a six-year prison sentence due to Turner’s evident lack of remorse and the victim’s vulnerable state. However, Judge Aaron Persky ruled that Turner’s previous lack of criminal history and the presence of alcohol signified that Turner was acting foolishly, but it wouldn’t likely occur again.

The anger around Turner’s light punishment sparked a national conversation about rape culture and the definition of consent, particularly after Turner’s father publicly released a letter asking the judge not to ruin his son’s life for “20 minutes of action.”

Angeline Stefano, a sophomore studying chemistry, told Student Media that the Turner ruling was “unacceptable and disappointing.”

Daniel Estevez, a junior studying psychology, said he’s seen the party culture at college tailgates and fraternity parties.

“There is a lot of alcohol and drug use in these events, and students of both sexes prey on each other,” he said. “It’s kind of like a game to see who can get wasted and hook up with someone fastest, but the issue comes when they are so intoxicated that they can’t think clearly or express consent.”

It is obvious that the nation must demand that college campuses create zero-tolerance policies and the judicial system must hold perpetrators accountable for their felonies. Associations like Greek life and college athletics must reform their social cultures and encourage safe partying and drinking.

As students involved in clubs and athletics, we must be role models for our peers and discourage these destructive attitudes regarding sexual assault, consent, college drinking, and party culture.

Victims of sexual assault are among our classmates and friends, and we should protect them. FIU has to become a safe campus for all of its students, because you and I could be the next victims of assault.

Julieta Rodrigo is a Staff Writer for Panther Press. Her column, Weekly Why, is a commentary on the latest issues in sports.

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