(Note: There are topics that will be covered in this blog post that are not suitable for children so please advise accordingly when going to read this piece. Also, no one has been found guilty legally of anything as of this writing.)
Most times, when we write on a topic on this blog, we try to write about the issues that take place on the court, field or ice level & what affects those situations. But over the last few years, another issue has become very apparent that affects people in athletic life, as well as in homes, schools, offices & other areas all around our communities, college campus & areas you may not realize.
Sexual Abuse & Sexual Assault.
Today, the United States Department of Education released a list of 55 accredited universities that currently have investigations in progress for sexual assault cases either on campus and/or involving the university’s students. The schools are the following –
Arizona State University
Butte-Glen Community College District
University of California-Berkeley
University of Southern California
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Denver
University of Denver
University of Connecticut
Catholic University of America
Florida State University
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Idaho
University of Chicago
Harvard University—Law School
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Frostburg State University
Michigan State University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Minot State University
Cuny Hunter College
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Sarah Lawrence College
Suny at Binghamton
Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
Carnegie Mellon University
Franklin and Marshall College
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
Southern Methodist University
The University of Texas-Pan American
College of William and Mary
University of Virginia
Washington State University
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
As you see the list of schools, they are large schools, small schools, Ivy League schools. Schools of all types. Situations of all types, & none of it is okay.
When Title IX was enacted in 1972, not only did it give women the chance to have equal standing as men in terms of athletic competition, but it also prevents & outlaws gender discrimination at learning institutions that receive federal funds from the government. Title IX also regulates & monitors cases of how the universities handle sexual assault cases. More & more, the victims are using that to show that many of the schools that are supposed to help them & give them complete shelter & solace fail short of those requirements.
While many of the cases are not put out for public knowledge, some cases do leak out to the media & when they do, its only then that people take notice, which has to be cut at the seams.
Brendan Gibbons was the starting kicker for the University of Michigan football team for the last 2 seasons. Gibbons was one of the most reliable kickers the team has had in many years, so needless to say, he was seen as a strong asset to the Michigan special teams. However, things got a bit interesting as the end of the season came about.
As the season went on, the Michigan Wolverines became eligible for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game against Kansas State University, which was going to be played in late December 2013. Gibbons was “injured” for that game, according to Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. Fans of the team couldn’t figure out when exactly Gibbons was injured & on top of that, why he didn’t travel with the team to the game which was held in Arizona. Most players who are injured and out for a significant amount of time do at least travel to the games with the team to show team unity.
Come to find out, he was out because the University of Michigan had finally run out of options for covering up for Gibbons & they knew that Gibbons would be facing expulsion from the school & would not be able to finish his graduate program that he was enrolled in at the time.
During a party at the Chi Psi Fraternity House in 2009, Gibbons & a female University of Michigan student athlete were partying together & according to the police report, the woman stated that she considered Gibbons a friend. They lived at the Mary Markley Hall dormitory & would see each other at the academic center set up for athletes.
When they saw each other at the dormitory, Gibbons threw a football at her, & asked her if she was going to have sex with her boyfriend. Gibbons allegedly did a variety of activities that would be very demeaning to her including pretending to spit in her hair & an instance where he would grip her had & say a demeaning statement saying “I’m going to hit that,” which is slang for having sex with a woman. She didn’t know why she was friends with him, but she stated that outside of those instances, he was a good person.
After that point, the incident, which in the police report described instances of forced oral sex & some vaginal tearing, took place. To view the entire report for yourself, please visit WashtenawWatchdogs.com for the complete police report.
When the situation took place, Gibbons’ roommate, Taylor Lewan, an All-American lineman who will be one of top picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, threatened to rape her again if she brought charges against Gibbons.
The University of Michigan took 4 years to investigate the situation, which is a major violation of the Title IX issue. The question is whether Michigan hid the situation because of Gibbons’ status on the team or not. Either way, this situation should have been handled quickly & swiftly, & Gibbons should have been expelled immediately.
Not all situations end up with such ease, though. The case of Missouri Swimmer Sasha Menu Courey was one of the saddest & extreme cases of the effect of sexual assault. Courey was a member of the University of Missouri swim team & on one night, she felt that she was raped by a football player on the school’s team in February 2010.
When Courey told the rape crisis counselor the situation that took place, here is her statement verbatim –
“[We] were falling asleep & then i heard the [door] open & some other guy walked in & locked the door & i couldnt really see who it was & i never saw a face the whole time…. but i remember just sitting upright in bed at the sound of someone walking in. & i just remember feeling really scared thinking that the two guys had planned this or something. so my first thought was figure out who this other person was in case so that if i needed the informaton i would have it later… the guy told me his name & then he pulled down his pants & put on a condom & just knew i was screwed …… I started to panick & as i still on the phone trying to reach one of them tears start going down & the guy just lift up my dress & next thing i knew he inserts from behind. by that point tears were falling more but i wasnt loud & didnt anything. and then i just snapped and kind pushed him away & yelled no! and then he just left.”
One of the players who was allegedly sent the tape of the situation by Menu Courey said that he saw her in a dark room with 3 players having sex with her, all while drunk, while Menu Courey did not know what was going on. Shortly after the experience, Menu Courey committed suicide on June 17, 2011 after checking herself into a hospital while slowly descending into a depressive state.
The school did not pursue the issue until it became a mainstream story in 2012. Why? I truly believe it was because the Missouri football team in 2010 was undefeated & had the opportunity to possibly play for a BCS National Championship & the school did not want to lose the money from that game because of NCAA sanctions, which surely would have come down after a situation like that.
These situations are some of the sadder ones that made the news, but how many don’t make the news or make waves in social media that people can get behind? How many women are keeping quiet on campuses that weren’t even named by the United States government for fear of retailiation from people who aren’t fully people, but more like monsters?
Many. Too many. Some that I know on a personal level. And it has to stop. From the sports standpoint, athletes do have the world as their oyster. They are able to get any female they practically want, get into any situation they want & know that the universities will mostly coverup for them, especially if they are at a school that is competiting for a championship, especially in the major revenue sports of football & basketball.
The schools may not change all of their ways of going about their business, because sports is, simply a business to many schools, but what about the victims? The victims will not be going into the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. Most likely they won’t go into making millions of dollars & feel even more entitled than what they already are.
(Yes, this is coming from an avid sports fan).
Situations like this have to start at the home. It has to start years before young children even know that anything like this exists. As adults, we have the responsibility to teach our children the way of right & wrong & that you never lay your hand on a woman in a way that can cause harm or any discomfort to her. The idea of “no means no” has to stand firm.
Many people will say that sometimes women can be massive flirts & guys have no strength to stop that. That is complete & utter garbage. The classiest women & the women that you would want to bring home to your family & friends will respect the fact that you aren’t treating her as an object & understand that she has feelings. Are we driven by sex in our society? No question about it. Sex & money are the main things that drive America & drive the citizens to do a wide variety of things that they would never consider if those two things weren’t in play.
But it doesn’t mean that we have carte blanche to take away someone’s innocence or make them do activities against their will that make people feel so powerless & uncomfortable that it makes a mental strain on their lives & possibly send them to the limit, as Sasha was.
According to the Department of Education, 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. It could be from other women, but in this case, I’m focusing on us men. We have to be better. We have to love our women. We have to treat them with the same honor, love & respect that we would want our mothers, sisters & others to be treated with. We talk so much about racism & homosexuality being wild in our society, but sexism is just as prevailent & sexual assault, in my opinion, is a sign of sexism because a man is making a woman feel inferior, due to the fact that he is showing a sign of physical power but mental & emotional weakness & exploiting the mental & emotional scarring of the women who end up being the victims.
If the cases at the universities end up being found positive & the accusers are found guilty of the charges brought against them, not only should the accusers see jail time, but the schools should immediately face fines of no less than $30 million dollars. A hefty fine will get universities attention & help them to make a stand against sexual assault & to keep the fact open that this can not be tolerated in any form, by anyone, at any time.
The NBA just banned Donald Sterling for life from operating the day-to-day operations of owning the Los Angeles Clippers, the same can happen at colleges, big or small, for turning their heads to situations that are having far reaching effects than not being able to win a championship that particular season.
How many lives must be scarred before a stand is taken?
If you are a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault, please visit RAINN.org, where they have over 1,100 counselors available to talk & help at any given time. Their phone number is 1-800-656-HOPE