Press Box: Calamity in East Lansing

Illustration by Yewei Wang

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the Times Up movement and the Larry Nassar case that prompted 140 women to speak out against the U.S. Gymnastics doctor the past six months have been monumental in shaping the conversation surrounding sexual assault.  

On April 9, a story published by the Detroit Free Press stated that three Michigan State University basketball players raped a female student in 2015.

Illustration by Yewei Wang

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan Southern Division, which described the female student as 18-year-old ‘Jane Doe.’ Three unnamed players took home ‘Jane Doe’ from an East Lansing bar between the evening of April 11, 2015 and early hours of April 12.

Jane Doe never reported the assault to the police but reported the incident to a counselor at MSU’s attention, like 20 percent of women ages 18 to 24 do according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. According to the lawsuit, MSU’s counseling center failed to properly advise Jane Doe and implied it would not be in her “best interest to report the incident to law enforcement,” as stated in the article.

“According to MSU’s policy on relationship violence and sexual misconduct, counselors generally are not permitted to report allegations of rape or relationship violence to the Title IX office or police,” Solari wrote in his article.

It is important to note that this is also the third allegation of multiple MSU basketball players raping a women since 2010, and only one of the incidents were reported to police.

When will acts of violence against women end?

Countless cases of sexual assault go unreported every day. But for those who do speak out against their assailants, it is practically impossible to get those actions accounted for due to the system in place for reporting these instances.  

If a victim doesn’t report the incident within 24 hours, their chances of making a case are cut in half. Without a rape kit or DNA evidence, there is no evidential proof to make a case. The system rarely runs in favor of the victim.

When will “what were you wearing?” or “how much did you drink?”  stop being the first question victims are asked? When will school officials step up for their students? When will the people be more important than the reputation of an establishment?

In 2015, The Athletic Business published an article stating in 2012 Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston allegedly raped student Erica Kinsman after Kinsman believes her drink was spiked.

“Kinsman and her father met with Tallahassee police about the incident, and were told, “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard if you want to press charges,” according to the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” No police action was taken over the next 10 months, as Kinsman not only received death threats, but was publicly ridiculed in the sports media, with some calling the allegations “terribly unfair” to Winston,” according to the article.

In 2015, Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner raped a female student and escaped a 14-year prison sentence after the judge gave him six months in confinement in a county jail.

In an article published by Lisa Wade from The Conversation, Wade argues status simply gives athletes sexual access. “Since their star status gives athletes plentiful opportunities to “hook up,” Wade writes, “athletes sometimes find themselves following a hookup script that bears a queasy resemblance to sexual assault.”

I think people are becoming numb to the idea that sexaul assault happens everywhere, all the time. I give all the praise I have to the victims of sexual assault who have spoken out about their incident and to those who haven’t spoken out. It is never easy to admit those events happened, but I hope that one day those who speak up will have a fair chance at seeking justice.

Jessica Wetzler, Staff Writer

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