*Trigger Warning: sexual assault, rape*
College athletes are highly praised and college sports are widely watched. A student athlete can get a scholarship (or even a full ride) to college just because of their talent in a sport. A fan favorite is college football, which is almost as popular as the NFL in some areas. Recently Colin Kaepernick has been getting backlash for choosing not to stand for the pledge of allegiance. The outrage is absurd when he has the right not to pledge allegiance to a flag that has oppressed many people of color. There are more important things in football that should be catching our attention. Many of the “star” college athletes become household names and move on to excel professionally in the sport. Little kids look up to those athletes and aspire to hopefully be just like them one day. College athletes are high profile people and role models. That is one reason why it is important to make sure that college athletes are good people and not just amazing athletes.
It seems that if you are a valuable athlete then it doesn’t matter what your past is, colleges still want to have you. This is a horrible mistake considering that college is much more than just the arena they play sports in. You have to remember that college is also community living with dorms and apartments, classroom settings, and mingling with many people in social settings (often accompanied with alcohol and drugs). When a college accepts an athlete, they are not only going to be a part of the sports team, but also a part of every other aspect of that college. They are going to be in the classrooms, at the parties, and on the campus. This is why it is important that college athletes (or any prospective student really), despite their talent and abilities, be safe people. A person should not be freed of their past just because they are a sought after athlete. You shouldn’t ever place talent over safety.
During any given year, 5% of college women are sexually assaulted. Obviously, overlooking some college sports player’s past isn’t the only reason that campus assault has become an epidemic, but it is still an important issue to address. 1 in 20 women reported that they were raped in the beginning of the year in college. In over 70% of those rapes, the victim was intoxicated to the point where they were unable to consent or say no. Keep in mind that 46% of rapes are not reported to the police. If you live in a sorority house then you are 3 times more at risk to be raped than students who live off campus. If you live in a dorm then you are 1.4 times more at risk to be raped than if you lived off campus. College campus sexual assault is entirely real and it is happening at colleges near you. If it could be avoided in any way (like prioritizing safety over athletic ability), then those precautions should be taken. You can sign this petition to support this issue. Also, make sure to watch this powerful video about sexual assault that is from a documentary about rape on college campuses, “The Hunting Ground.”