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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | FEBRUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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It’s not in our nature; it’s time for zero-tolerance

The stance taken by President Sally Mason originally in the Feb. 20 issue of The Daily Iowan spoke volumes about the complacency felt by the university concerning sexual assaults. Mason’s statement concerning stopping sexual assaults — “That’s probably not a realistic goal given human nature” — paints the bigger picture that describes a grotesque perspective of the culture that has developed on campus. The timely warning emails sent by the university when sexual assaults are reported are filled with victim-blaming sentiments, which suggest that drinking alcohol or walking home alone after dark should be avoided if one wishes to avoid assault. In saying that it is not a “realistic goal” to end sexual assaults on campus, Mason gives perpetrators a free pass. It’s time for the university to take the same zero-tolerance stance on sexual assaults that it does on issues regarding academic dishonesty, underage drinking, and illegal drug use on campus.

Statistics compiled by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault show 1 in 4 college women will be the victims of sexual assault during their academic careers. At least 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances of the victim.

The horror felt by the victims of sexual assault is very real, and statistics cannot begin to describe the lifelong trauma that haunts them afterward. It is alarming that the number of assaults may be much higher given that many are not reported at all. Those unwilling to come forward often do not because of a culture that blames victims rather than empathizing, implementing zero-tolerance policies, and promoting reform at the macro-level. The anti-sexual-violence organization RAINN shows that 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Mason has since clarified her stance on the topic of sexual assaults via the official University of Iowa Facebook account, where her rhetoric reflected a more hardline stance that is needed for change. Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. We, as the University of Iowa College Republicans, support any initiative, program, or public-safety measure that will ensure the safety of all students.  We call upon Mason and the administration at the University of Iowa to listen to the voices of students who passionately believe that reform is necessary.

To sign a petition to demand the university to take a zero-tolerance stance on sexual assaults, visit notinmynature.com.

Keith Evanson, vice chairman of the University of Iowa College Republicans


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