In a stunning move that seems to completely ignore the root cause of campus rape and rape culture in general, Stanford University has decided to ban hard liquor from campus parties. Many see this move as a response to the infamous Brock Turner rape scandal that rocked the campus this year. However, critics believe that the new policy is a slap in the face of rape victims and potential rape victims, and sends the message that victims’ actions are the root cause of rape and sexual assault.
As CNN reports, the new Stanford University rape culture response is supposed to reduce rape on campus by reducing “high risk behavior.” Apparently, the University believes that the drinking of hard alcohol is the high risk behavior, rather than understanding that the true high-risk behavior is perpetuating a culture that insinuates that it’s somehow okay or excusable to have sex with someone when they are too drunk to give consent.
The change in Stanford University policy, which was announced Monday, will not prohibit of-age University students from drinking beer and wine on campus. However, students can no longer have booze with more than 20 percent alcohol by volume (40 proof). Stanford University students will also be limited in the amount of alcohol they can have in common areas or their dorms. Now that the new policy is in place, students can have no more than 750 milliliters at a time.
“Our focus is on the high risk of the rapid consumption of hard alcohol. Our intention is not a total prohibition of a substance, but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior.”
The change to Stanford University policy comes just two months after the sentencing of former student Brock Turner. Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, and to the shock and disgust was only sentenced to a few months in jail. Despite having been caught, literally, with his pants down.
After Brock Turner’s sentencing, Stanford University found itself at the epicenter of a national rape culture debate, and while the school isn’t confirming that the change is policy has anything to do with the Brock Turner fallout, many believe that’s precisely what the change was made.
Unfortunately, there is no proof that reducing alcohol reduces or eliminates instances of sexual assault. In fact, there is no evidence that a rape victim’s behavior has any bearing whatsoever on whether or not she will become a victim of sexual assault. It is precisely the idea that a victim can control the actions of her rapist that has led to the proliferation of rape culture across the United States, particularly at colleges and universities.
The fact is, no rapist cares about the laws or rules. If they were governed by a need to follow campus policies, the last high-profile Stanford University rape would never have taken place. By the time men get to college, they are well aware that sex requires consent or it is rape. They are taught from puberty that no means no. What they aren’t taught, in many instances, is that there is no such thing as “implied consent” when it comes to sex.
If you want to have sex, and if you want to avoid being a rapist, you shouldn’t be waiting for a “no.” You should be waiting for a “yes.” You should also be fully aware that a “yes” to sex can be withdrawn at any time. And that a drunk “yes” doesn’t count. Here’s a great video about sex and consent that should be the first thing every new Stanford University student, and really every college student across the United States, sees on their first day of class.
Furthermore, students need to know that the responsibility for rape belongs to the rapist. That is, the person that pursues or engages unwanted sexual contact or has sexual relations with someone who is under the influence.
Rules like the new alcohol policy at Stanford University perpetuate the myth that a rape victim controls the actions of her rapist. That rape victims and potential rape victims should be the ones to bear the responsibility of preventing rape, rather than holding rapists wholly and fully responsible for their crimes.
Rape is about power and control and force, not about whether the alcohol you’re drinking is five percent or 25 percent. When a rape victim doesn’t drink hard liquor willingly, she often finds herself drugged. We live in a society so fraught with rape culture that companies are inventing special straws, cups and even nail polish that detects the presence of date rape drugs in beverages.
Clearly, the rape culture that is being perpetuated in the United States isn’t the fault of the victims. It’s the fault of the rapists who think that it is okay to have sex with someone if they are unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and/or fighting off the assault.
When institutions like Stanford University and judges like Judge Persky who sentenced Brock Turner to mere months of incarceration blame victims and/or create rules and regulations that water down blame, shame victims and trivialize the horrific crime of rape, they are enabling the growth of rape culture.
Brigham Young University has repeatedly been voted the most “Stone Cold Sober” college in the United States by the Princeton Review. In fact, as The University Herald reports, 2016 marks the 18th year in a row BYU has held that distinction. Students at the Mormon school are required to agree and adhere to an “honor code” that prohibits, among other things, any form of alcohol consumption. On or off campus.
However, even though BYU doesn’t allow alcohol, the university is still frequently embattled in high-profile and public instances of rape and other sex crimes. The reason? Rapists rape, even when alcohol isn’t allowed.
Stanford University is reportedly hoping to curb “high risk behavior” by limiting what alcohol can be served at campus parties. If Stanford University really wanted to do something about high-risk behavior and to put a stop to rape culture on its campus, it would stop making excuses for rapists by blaming alcohol instead of the people doing the raping.
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