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Everyone Missing the Point In UO Rape Investigation Fallout

In a moment that desperately calls for the adults in the room to come together, the discussion surrounding the scandal has devolved into child's play.

Everyone has an agenda in the fallout from the UO rape investigation. The University wants everyone to know that they believe everything was handled properly. Some have turned it into a witch hunt and want somebody fired over the whole deal. And Nathan Tublitz wants to be involved and hear his name a lot because, no matter the issue, Nathan Tublitz wants everyone to know that he has an opinion on it.

Everyone wants to see this in black and white, as if their way is the only way. But it's not that simple. Reading the police report, it's clear that the three players involved are guilty of gross stupidity and a profound lack of moral decency, both things that, in my opinion, more than justify their dismissal from the team. It's less clear that they actually committed a crime. I think it's very probable that they did, but there certainly isn't the evidence to meet the legal threshold to garner a conviction, no matter how much some people's outrage want them to veer in that direction.

It's also not clear that suspending the players was the right move at the time. It's true that 95% of time, rape allegations prove to be accurate. But, in a post Duke lacrosse world, it is understood that false accusations are possible, and the possible consequences are grave. The concept of due process exists to protect the falsely accused. Merely being accused or investigated of a crime is not necessarily grounds for any type of punishment. We know Dana Altman knew about the investigation the day before the BYU game, but we don't know how much or how little he knew about the investigation. We don't know the exact nature of the disputed request from EPD to the University regarding the investigation.

People who are calling for firings or lambasting the University without knowledge of these answers are grandstanding to keep their names in agenda in the news, while the University seems more interested in protecting their image than having any real dialogue on the subject. In my book, both sides come off as losers in the deal who have lost sight of real issues coming out of this whole fiasco.

This shouldn't be about retribution, name-calling, or protecting an institution's image. It should be about determining what a university's role is in preventing sexual assault on campus, and implementing a plan to fulfill that role.

Certainly, nobody believe that the University holds any direct responsibility for a sexual assault. I firmly believe that what happened in this case happens every weekend at most major college campuses. The vast majority of these go unreported. And in many cases, both victims and perpetrators believe that such activity is "normal" and that nobody has done anything wrong.

Frankly, there is a culture of inevitability and acceptance that permeates college life at many universities across this country. This is a culture that must be changed. But if a high-profile incident such as this can't foster this discussion, what can? And how many more such incidents must occur before we get serious about addressing it?

I don't have the answers to these questions and, given the people involved at the University, people far smarter than I should be seeking them if they cared to stop bickering and put in the time.

But here's where I'd start:

Changing this type of behavior starts with changing that culture of inevitability and acceptance. That means educating people, and educating them the moment they step on campus. This should happen the first weekend freshmen arrive. Be required for transfers before they are allowed to take a class. It needs to be required for every student and be taken with the utmost seriousness.

That means hearing from victims that want to speak out about their experiences. It means learning that no means no. Learning that alcohol involved automatically means no. It means learning that, despite popular culture, the idea of women as a conquest is a false one. It means being honest about the fact that sex is a wonderful thing and a pretty normal part of college life, while also being crystal clear that it is only wonderful and normal when it exists between consenting adults and for the pleasure of both of the parties involved.

Will this stop every sexual assault? No. As long as people have the ability to make decisions, some will continue to make bad ones. But it would make sure that every student is armed with information, and I firmly believe that, given that information, most people will choose to act in a positive manner.

No doubt, that's only the beginning of a solution, not the entire solution. This situation has given the perfect opportunity for everyone to have a conversation that is long overdue. But as long as the moment continues to be hijacked by vanity, vindictiveness, and viciousness, no meaningful reform can happen and, once again, it will be the students that lose.