Coming to Western was a huge change. Sure, I’m only a couple hours away from home, but the sudden independence is taking a while to get used to. I especially wasn’t expecting orientation week to be the way it was. The concerts and late nights turned early mornings definitely took a toll on me by the end of the week, but I did appreciate many of the events the school put on. In particular, I remember thinking One Love was possibly the most moving presentation I had ever seen. It’s something I think about even now, a month later, as I walk to my 8:30 classes every morning across the bridge. I see the tired faces on those Monday mornings after a wild weekend, but that doesn’t concern me nearly as much as what I read in the newspapers.
About a month ago, Brock Turner was released after serving a mere 3 month prison sentence for raping a woman he met at a frat party. Of course, he is more often referred to as the former Stanford swimmer than labelled as the rapist that he is. Even articles that seem to represent a negative image of Turner simply end up describing his wardrobe and the look of his “shamed” eyes. Now, just a few days ago, another sexual assault case was brought to the attention of the Stanford administration, this time between two strangers in the suspect’s dorm room. The victim still has not brought the case to the attention of the local authorities, and honestly, I completely understand. Who would ever have the courage to seek police intervention for a case of sexual assault after the unforgivable way that they let Turner off the hook? When having money is all it seems to take to “beat” the legal system, who would ever put themselves through the torture of going to court for months on end, being subjected to cruel lines of questioning, and finally being told their rape was even partially their own fault?
At One Love, I heard a father tell the story of how his daughter’s rape eventually led to her suicide. This made me think of how my life is really just a string of choices I make every day. What more can we do if we are stripped of our choice? I am proud to go to a school that emphasizes the severity of taking away someone else’s choice, but our legal system needs to reflect those views as well. A victim’s voice should not be shut out due to wealth or position of the offender. These cases should not be filed away and forgotten as soon as the offender comes up with some excuse such as, in the case of Brock, not deserving to go to jail for “twenty minutes of action.” If rape continues to be dealt with in such a relaxed manner, it will continue to be transformed from being a devastating infringement on an individual’s body, to a petty crime in the eyes of the law. There are no excuses, and the sooner courts realize the severity of rape, the more lives we will save.