We Need To Talk About…Sexual Assault

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, the name Brock Turner may not have much meaning to you. But maybe if you were to hear about, “Brock Turner the Stanford Swimmer,” like the media has referred to him as, it would ring a bell.

However, at the end of the day, what the world should know him as is Brock Turner, the rapist.

On March 30, 2016, Turner was convicted for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. And on September 2, 2016, Turner was released three-months early from his slap on the wrist six-month sentence for “good behavior.” People were outraged by his early release and have been voicing their opinions on all social media platforms.

Articles are sarcastically being published titled as, “Brock Turner Going Free is Best Thing to Happen to Rape,” mocking the backwards decision of Judge Persky. Joining in are celebrities such as Lena Dunham who has taken a stand on her own personal social media page by posting a photo of another Twitter account stating, “There was stuff in my fridge when Brock Turner went to jail that’s still there,” thus creating the hashtag, #ThingsLongerThanBrockTurnersJailSentence.

But, after all of these memes and puns… what message is the Brock Turner case really sending?

Let’s look at the facts, shall we? Brock Turner served three lousy months in jail and a girl’s life is emotionally scarred, leaving her to struggle with the aftermath of sexual assault for the rest of her life.

So tell me, why would anyone willingly come and speak out if they know justice truly won’t be served? It has done nothing than inflict even more fear into both men and women to speak up about their sexual assaults.

Marissa Nardi, a Manhattanville College senior feels as though, “sexual assaults are an extremely serious matter that tend to get overlooked, not just by campuses, but in general. Many people fail to recognize or acknowledge because it hasn’t happened to them. I think part of the problem, too, is that men and women feel embarrassed to seek help after a sexual assault.”

Additionally, Nardi also commented that, “Many people who have been sexually assaulted feel like they’re to blame; they feel shameful and guilty. That’s because as a whole, that is the connotation that comes along with sexual assault. In my opinion, campuses need to do a better job of making people feel welcome to seek help and come forward about an assault.”

Nick Campana, a Manhattanville College student-athlete on the Valiants Baseball team, is “still appalled” at how the justice system handled Brock Turner’s case. “It was as if he was just a victim and basically got a slap on the wrist,” said Campana.

Campana also commented, “His [Brock’s] father stated [that] his son should not go to jail for ‘20 minutes of action.’ He [Brock], as an individual and his actions shouldn’t be a label for not only male athletes, but also for males in general. Sadly, though, this will give male athletes a bad reputation and will definitely have people on high alert when looking at male athletes.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. However, unfortunately, more than 90% of victims do not report the assault. Manhattanville College “strongly encourages students to report domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to College officials.”

That being said, according to Manhattanville College’s Clery Report, there have been 3 sex-offenses of rape reported to the college in 2013 and only 1 reported in 2014.

Dr. Ramona Brown, the College’s interim Vice President for Student Affairs, is the Title IX Coordinator. Title IX states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Title IX applies to all educational institutions, public and private, receiving federal funds.”

Dr. Brown “provides oversight to the Title IX process, reporting, and data collection.” All incoming students are required to complete Haven, an online program that is a “thoughtful and educational program for college students committed to helping them think about their choices,” according to the College.



Dr. Brown was able to share data from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years dated August 1- July 31.

In both 2014-15 and 2015-16, there were 7 reports filed, and in 2013-14 there were 5 reports that fell under the “Sexual Misconduct Policy,” which includes cases involving “biased behavior, stalking, sexual harassment, hate crimes, sexual offenses, sexual assault, and
sexual harassment.”

If a student is to report any allegation of sexual misconduct, “The College will advise Complainants of their (1) right to notify law enforcement; (2) right to decline to do so; or (3) be assisted in notifying law enforcement,” said Dr. Brown.

Julene Fisher, the Assistant Athletic Director of Manhattanville College, additionally serves as the Title IX Deputy Coordinator. She educates all student-athletes, ensuring that Manhattanville College is in compliant with Article 129-B, otherwise known as and referred to as the, “enough is enough law.”

Fisher said, “Since Article 129-B was incanted in July 2015, I have noticed that our student-athletes are more educated on the topic of Title IX and now understand what to do if they see something or something happens to them or a friend.”

Campana, having gone through Title IX awareness, added that, “Manhattanville has done well when it comes down to student awareness about sexual assault. Also, for the athletes, they do a great job— they have numerous meetings about it [Title IX] and stress this
topic nonstop.”

It’s evident that Manhattanville College has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and wishes for those who feel comfortable enough to speak out about their sexual assault, does so. However, the difficulty in preventing sexual assault lies with students coming forward and telling their story.

If there is anything that can be taken away from the Brock Turner case it is to educate and talk about the severity and impact of sexual assault. People want things to change. People want to see progress. People want justice served. We must start looking at sexual assault on college campuses on a higher level.

So, let’s start talking, creating environments that our peers feel as though they can confide in. Because, if 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college and there’s only a handful of reports each year at colleges- that’s an additional issue at hand. That’s not to say that we should be expecting larger numbers of sexual assault cases at colleges. Of course, in a perfect world, we would hope there would be zero sexual assaults; but we need to be realistic.

And it’s not just Manhattanville; in comparison, Campus Safety Reports of schools with the logistics—same student population, campus size, etc. report only a handful of sexual assault on campus. Sexual assault on college campuses are real, it happens more than it is reported.
Those who are victims of sexual assault need to know that they have options. Your voice deserves to be heard and no one should be violated in a way that makes them stay quiet.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted- talk to someone you trust. The only way to generate the conversation and changing the connotation is talking about the issue at hand.