Lifestyle Staff Writer | Morgan Coovert | firstname.lastname@example.org | Instagram: @mcoovs
This summer, Brock Turner was the name on the lips of thousands of Americans who were shocked by the result of his trial. In January of 2015, Turner, former Stanford swimmer, was accused of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the school’s campus. Two grad students served as witnesses and said, as BuzzFeed reports, they found him, “aggressively thrusting his hips into her.” The boys called out, and Turner began to run, with one student chasing after him. That night, he was arrested.
According to WHIO (the local news in Turner’s home town), Turner pleaded not guilty to five felony charges: sexual penetration by a foreign object of an intoxicated person, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious person, rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, and assault with intent to commit rape. At the preliminary hearing, he once again pleaded not guilty, and the rape charges were dropped. Then in March, he was convicted of three charges of sexual assault. This means that Brock Turner faced a maximum of 6 months in prison (minimum of two), and would have to register as a sex offender.
On June 2nd, the story was blown into national news. Sports Illustrated reported that Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in the Santa Clara County Jail, and three years probation. The victim and her family, along with the public, were left wondering why. That is the question, isn’t it? Why?
According to The Guardian, Turner’s argument placed blame on the “party culture.” Or was it any other number of excuses? A letter from one of his acquaintances that claimed, “rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists”? The letter from his father that described the assault as “20 minutes of action”? Was it the fact that Persky is a former Stanford graduate? That Turner was a college athlete? That he was white? (Judge Persky sentenced a Latino man that pleaded guilty in a similar case to three years in prison). Many questions were left unanswered at the closing of Turner’s trial, but the common consensus was that he got off easy.
BUT WAIT, there’s more! According to the Los Angeles Times, Turner was released three months early from the Santa Clara County Jail on September 2nd. A convicted sex offender served three months—90 days (the length of my summer vacation) as punishment for penetrating an unconscious woman without consent.
So what does this mean for college women? To say it has nothing to do with you would be undermining the fact that this situation really could have happened anywhere, and to anyone. So, I talked to girls on campus about the case. We discussed things such as safety in Athens, steps they take to stay safe, rape culture, and what they felt upon hearing about the case. This is what they had to say…
“I think girls are already scared enough as it is. I mean we’re taught not to walk alone and not to… you know, if we dress like this then we’re asking for it. We’re already scared to begin with and then knowing that someone did that and literally had no punishment or anything.. I think it’s definitely going to makes girls not want to speak up about it.”
– Melanie Solano, Sophomore, Nursing Major
“No one offers to go with me [at night]! Other girls will be like, ‘I will,’ but then I’m like no, because then you’re going to have to walk back alone. So, I just man up and do it.”
– Madi Boring, Freshman, Journalism News and Information Major
“I think it’s disappointing. It definitely just proves that college’s top priorities don’t include the safety of female students. It proves that rape culture is alive and well on campuses, and that its not dealt with well at all by universities.”
– Alyssa King, Junior, Journalism News and Information Major
“You have these rules in your head that you know to follow. You just know, ‘Okay, don’t drink the jungle juice.’”
– Abby Harder, Freshman, Journalism News and Information Major
“I was at orientation [when I heard] and that was the day the victim came out with the letter, and it took me two hours to read, because I was just so in awe of what had happened to this poor girl, and I think it’s amazing that she put out this letter, because she literally sparked this uproar within our society that could potentially change something.”
– Sarah Abrams, Freshman, Business Major
“I think that the result of Brock’s case, although unfortunate, is a chance for all women of the college age to come together and be there for each other. It’s a time where we can all take a stand for all those who have been sexually assaulted and be there to show our love and support to women like the victim in this particular case.”
– Madi Staley, Sophomore, Strategic Communications Major