Former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott was arrested in 2012 on two counts of sexual assault. Sam Ukwuachu, also a former Baylor football player, was convicted of sexual assault last year. Shawn Oakman, another former Baylor football player, was arrested on allegations of sexual assault last week. And ESPN just released their second “Outside the Lines” feature on Baylor – naming two new players whose cases went under the radar. The words “sexual assault” and “Baylor University” are used in the same sentence now more than ever.
These cases are especially emphasized by April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. President Starr used this opportunity to finally speak out on the topic. A columnist from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram questioned Starr’s motive for not addressing the assaults earlier.
“That’s a very, very fair question,” Starr told the columnist, and went on to explain how the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton’s evaluation was still underway, and that he was advised not to say anything until it was through.
Though this investigation makes it seem like the university is making strides to stave off future assaults and mend mistakes from the past, it has become a crutch. Because the investigation is pending, the university can direct any and all criticism towards it. It is prolonging the justice and change students desire.
And people are getting fed up. Jasmin Hernandez filed a Title IX lawsuit in March against Baylor in its dealing with her sexual assault case. Other students have made blog posts and held vigils to bring to light how they feel the university has failed. The social tag “#itsonyouBU” has gained popularity – signifying a shift from the “It’s on Us” campaign, which is promoted by the Title IX office.
So maybe Baylor messed up. does not look like any noteworthy changes will take place until the Pepper Hamilton investigation is over. In light of Sexual Assault Awareness month, let’s be straightforward: sexual violence starts with the individual.
I spoke with a rape survivor and Baylor graduate in February. I was writing a separate story about safety while studying abroad, and wanted to get her perspective. She got to the core of the issue. She made it clear that rape won’t end when the Board of Regents addresses the most recent cases, or when the next wave of students are educated on sexual assault. Rather, rape ends when people stop raping people, and a Title IX session on sexual violence won’t keep rapists from raping
No. A person prone to assaulting other people won’t be changed by a mandatory meeting. The cognitive shifts have to start earlier than that.
Sexual assault is fostered in a culture of violence and gender inequality, as well as an outrageous tolerance for its perpetuation. Keeping perpetrators and their respective institutions accountable fights against this violence and inequality. This should be a universal value. And it really makes you wonder what are you capable of. And what will you do that Baylor can’t?
Gavin Pugh is a junior journalism major from Coppell. He is an assistant city editor for the Lariat.