Saturday, December 17, 2016


Now the Univ. of Minnesota football team is looking pretty messy, too

1) A complaint was made about a sexual assault involving several football players and a female student. In the police report, the details are messy and often unclear (you can read the police report here). The EEOC report is much more complete (you can read that here).

2) The Athletic Director at that time was later fired for sexual harrassment.

3) No charges were brought against the students involved in the assault.

4) The University just announced that ten players would be suspended or expelled over the incident.

5) The players have reacted by saying they will boycott football. Today, they called the boycott off.

More details here. Ugh. I am losing my affection for college football pretty quickly this year.

I read part of the police report. And now I am going to say something that many people will not like. But its something every young person need to know. From reading article after article about events like these at various colleges (and high schools), including U.Va., William & Mary, and many other places, the common element is alcohol. LOTS of alcohol. I'm not trying excuse bad behavior by boys and men.. most of them have had too much to drink too.

And if you know me in person, you know that I had a great time in college and at other parts of my life where there was a lot of beer (and booze) on tap or available. But my experiences were in a culture where one was supposed to "maintain." Maintain control, maintain composure, maintain decency. Not everyone did, of course, but word got around quickly if you did not.

My view -- a lot of this is due to the 21 year old drinking age. younger people want to experiment and it won't matter if the legal age is 17. 18, 19, 21 or some other arbitrary number -- they will. I'd flip it back to 18, when most people are still living at home and have a lot more supervision.
As a current college student, I couldn't agree more. The 21 drinking age makes drinking into this secret, alluring taboo for all freshmen/sophomores, which means that a) heavy, heavy drinking takes place largely in dorm rooms before parties, which is way less safe than drinking at parties, and b) if someone's either really sick or acting inappropriately, the incentive to do anything about it is reduced because, hey, you don't want to mess with that because you could get in trouble for drinking, too. Plus, who's teaching young people to drink if the drinking age falls well into the college years? Not adults -- other college kids who likely don't really understand this stuff that well themselves.

Another thing you're right about, I think: I get where the idea that sexual assault and alcohol use aren't connected comes from (after all, saying they are connected risks sounding at first glance like giving rapists an excuse), but the data just doesn't back it up. The fact of the matter is that people who are really drunk are just statistically more likely to sexually assault people than people who aren't. There's no magic bullet to solving all campus sexual assaults, and we can't let people who commit sexual assault off the hook, but I think a more sensible drinking age would do a lot.
We see this in a lot of our courts-martial (and the investigations that don't go to court-martial) least one, if not both, of the involved parties is drunk out of his/her mind. I've lost count of how many cases I've seen at the trial and appellate levels where a victim drank mind-blowing amounts of alcohol before being assaulted. I've lost count of how many cases I've seen where the accused was also very drunk (which raises interesting issues of ability to form specific intent).

The bottom line is that young people plus alcohol can be a bad, bad combination. In the military, I've thought about whether we should ban alcohol in the barracks altogether. The alcohol is not the cause of sexual assault, but it's frequently a contributing factor...take that out of the equation and maybe these things happen less.
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