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Dear Stanford, Banning Alcohol Doesn’t Stop Rapists

Recently, Stanford University banned alcohol at undergraduate parties on campus. This is the college where Brock Turner, an incarcerated rapist, attended; their decision is due in part to the sexual crimes that he committed against a 22-year-old girl who was unconscious.

While changes need to be made, this isn’t necessarily what needs to happen. Rape happens, regardless of alcohol consumption. Alcohol does not automatically equate to rape, nor does it justify it; by simply banning drinking instead of putting an emphasis on the people committing the crime, you are sending a message to your students that their actions can be blamed on something else entirely.

So, if banning alcohol isn’t the answer, then what is? Stanford, here’s some ideas: let’s bring advocacy groups in for victims. Let’s make sure that your students have a better relationship and understanding of their Title IX office. The resources on campus affect the well being of the victim; if you have none, how are you taking care of your students?

Research shows that Stanford has actually offered money to former students to drop their Title IX reports, according to this article on the university’s news website. Logging onto their student affairs page, their articles include mostly athletes and sport teams; no actual students or their achievements. A small box at the bottom details how one can contact their Title IX office, and that’s it.

At West Virginia University (the college I attend), “It’s On Us” has a huge persona on our campus. They hold a lot of events over the year and even have a class you can take in order to become a peer advocate, which helps students help their peers. Signs surround our student union, detailing how a victim can get help. In our residence halls, we have signs; our resident assistants are trained to help deal with sexual assault as well. As a sexual assault victim, I don’t think it’s exactly where it should be, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Instead of saying “you can’t drink,” let’s say “you can’t rape”. Let’s stop banning alcohol and start banning rapists.

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Shan Cawley
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Shannon Cawley is an author and full-time student based in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her first chapbook, "depression is a thunderstorm and i am a scared dog" is set to be released by Maudlin House Press during the summer of 2017. In her free time, Shan works at her dorm's dining hall, involves herself in numerous extracurricular activities, and advocates for sexual assault victims as well as sufferers of mental illness.

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