Rape on Marist Campus
In January of 2015, a Stanford University student named Brock Turner raped an unconscious and intoxicated woman. By doing so, Turner, who was later indicted on three counts of felony sexual assault and served three months in prison, incited a national conversation about rape on college campuses.
In 2015, four Marist College students reported rape on campus. This was following four reported rapes in 2014 and two in 2013.
We know what happened to Brock Turner, but what happened to the criminals of these rapes at Marist College? Dr. Julie Raines, Chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Marist College explains that perpetrators like Brock Turner often walk away from such heinous acts able to lead normal lives.
This is due largely to flaws in the system and also to the fact that a criminal conviction is different than a college sanction.
“If a student is accused of rape on a college campus, whether it is Marist or somewhere else, they go through a college system, and the only thing the college is trying to determine is whether or not they’re going to let this kid continue to take classes, and/or live on campus. The collegiate system is not a criminal court; they’re not going to figure out whether or not you’ve committed a crime.” While the college can work with the victim if he or she chooses to pursue the rape further and take it to law enforcement, Raines says a very high percent of victims will not take their case further.
This is due not only to the fact that a rape kit collection is an invasive and traumatic experience, but also because the process of furthering a rape investigation creates an atmosphere of re-victimization each time the victim discusses the rape.
As the victim, “You have to tell your story to whoever’s investigating it, you have to tell your story during the hearing, to local law enforcement, to a prosecutor, to a jury, you have to tell and retell the story and every time you do it in front of people you’re talking about intimate sexual details. Also in moving forward, lots of people find out,” Raines says.
Since more often than not the rapes do not move on to law enforcement and are not taken to court, this can leave the offender with little to no consequences.
Because that student would not be required to report to Marist the other institutions they’ve applied to, and those institutions would have no way of knowing the victim’s record, it is very likely that the student could continue to reoffend on a different college campus.
The issue of re-victimization and lack of a centralized reporting system are the focus of Raines current research project. Along with the help of three Marist undergraduate students, Andrew Ventrella, Marisa Prezioso, and Tyler Blizinski, Raines and her team are conducting year long research on college campuses around the East coast. Their research will include conducting between 50-60 interviews with victims of sexual assault and rape, traveling to various colleges and universities, and even attending parties with Go-Pros to capture real life footage of interactions between students in hookup environments. Raines and her team are exploring the idea of using the footage from both the interviews and the parties to create a documentary.
Tyler Blizinski 19’, is assisting with the research and hopes that by filming these scenarios, institutions of higher learning everywhere will be able to gain awareness. “A lot of the administrators at these colleges are not actually in touch with what is going on at these parties, so we hope to show that. We’re not trying to learn about rape itself, we’re more learning about the process of reporting it and the precautions that are put in place at different schools,” he says.
Ultimately, Blizinski and his fellow researchers hope to leave even the smallest of marks on what is a huge national problem.
In noticing that Marist’s current prevention methods for rape were lacking, Raines began to create her own changes at the local level at Marist, as well.
Marist presently aims to prevent rape on college campuses and educate students about sexual misconduct through online Title IX training, which every student is required to take.
Title IX, which is a federal law that was passed in 1972, protects against any form of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
When Raines invited Vice President of Academic Affairs, Deb DiCaprio, to her senior capping class to assess the title IX training, the two found that the current system lacks effectiveness and leaves students confused about sexual misconduct. As an alternative, they are working on Bystander Intervention training, which would allow students to watch real life scenarios dealing with sexual encounters, and then discuss them in small groups in class. When tested, it had a much higher success rate than the current system. “This has been found to be very effective, the students unanimously agreed they learned a lot from it,” says Raines, who along with DiCaprio, would like to see Bystander Intervention put in place by next year.
Raines stresses the importance of responsible bystanders, especially in the context of the hookup culture that is so prevalent on college campuses. This hookup culture often occurs when students become intoxicated at parties, but, she says, it should never lead to a rape occurring.
“There’s misreading of cues,” Raines explains. “People who are potential bystanders who could intervene, misread cues and think “I need to leave them alone because they might hookup.” Bystander Intervention would help to create a more communicative environment, to encourage bystanders to explicitly ask a person if they are okay and if they want to be left alone, rather than just making assumptions.
New bystander intervention training is just one of the ways that Raines is hoping small efforts at Marist College will incite larger change. On October 5th, 2016 Raines became a certified investigator for sexual assault and campus rape. She is joined by a few other faculty members who feel that one of the reasons rape is underreported at Marist is because the only outlet for students to turn to is Campus Security, whom most students are not familiar with and do not feel comfortable sharing such details with. By having several faculty members from different departments across Marist complete this training, Raines hopes it will allow students to feel that they can confide in someone whom they know and trust.
Julie Raines sees the case of Brock Turner as a representation of the gaps that exist in the criminal justice system and in society at large. While she may be the chair of the criminal justice department, she has no clear cut answer as to how his case should have been handled.
“There’s a huge debate about what should happen with cases like this,” she says. “The big debate is whether or not he’s going to come out of prison reformed in any way,” she says she asks. She recognizes that there both sides to any such case must be considered: the victim needs to first and foremost feel safe, but at the same time the offender needs to be rehabilitated to ensure they do not reoffend.
“The longer he’s in prison the more institutionalized he becomes in the prison, the more likely he’s going to commit more crimes when he comes out, he’ll become disenfranchised, he loses his right to vote. If he’s a felon, you can’t sit on a jury, can’t find a job, its hard to find housing, he’s a sexual predator now, its real restrictive on where he can live and what he can do. So is that helping society? What its doing is making it more likely that he’ll commit more crimes.” As Raines clearly notes, these questions are not just applicable to the case of Brock Turner, they are relevant to rape cases everywhere, on college campuses or not. And Raines isn’t the only one who recognizes the urgency of the situation: Today, there are over 200 colleges and universities across America that are under federal investigation for Title IX violations. Through her research and her meticulous plans of actions, Dr. Julie Raines hopes that everyone will see the large scale which campus rape occurs on, and hopes that her ideas will be able to be spread.
“I think not only will Marist benefit from it and our students, but students at other places will publish our findings and will share them at conferences and will try and share them at other colleges who struggle with this issue. And I think we’ll learn an awful lot.”↑ Back to top