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Baylor University football

Often you hear of a crime like rape, or another crime, being “unspeakable.”  That was definitely the hope of the “leadership” at Baylor University.

College campuses are beefing up staff to respond to an epidemic of sexual assaults. This move is long overdue; a study by the Association of American Universities found that 23 percent of female college students experience some form of sexual assault. But who knows the real number; the Department of Justice estimates that only 20 percent of sexual assaults are reported.

The problem of sexual assault gets more staggering the more you dig. The Washington Post published a study of college campuses and sexual assault in 2016.  Some alarming statistics:

  • Reed College: 12.9 rapes per 1,000 students
  • Wesleyan College: 11.5 rapes per 1,000 students. This school had just over 3200 students at the time of the study.  The number of rapes (37) was 4th most of any school in the country, regardless of enrollment.  
  • Brown University and the University of Connecticut each had 43 rapes. That is alarmingly high, especially for Brown, whose enrollment is nearly one-third that of the University of Connecticut.
  • With the University of Connecticut tied for the most, and Wesleyan at 4th, 2 of the 4 colleges with the most rapes are in Connecticut.  
  • Five of the schools with the most rapes are considered among the very best in the country, including;
    1. Brown
    2. Dartmouth
    3. Virginia   
    4. Harvard
    5. Stanford

And that brings us to the charges against Baylor University — or, more specifically, the football team.

Related: Baylor U Impedes On-Campus Rape Cases

The Baylor football team had 52 accusations of rape against 31 players from 2011 to 2014.  They alone would be one of the worst offending colleges in the country. But they’re just a team of about 100 players. That is not only a disgrace, but a complete, fundamental breakdown of a key function of any college.

The allegations are laid out in a 146-page lawsuit filed earlier this year, including claims that the team’s coaching staff used women at the school as a recruiting tool for high-school athletes.  One recruit said that a now-former assistant coach told him “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor, and they love football players.”      

And to have such an epidemic, it must have gone beyond just the players — it seems there was willful ignorance on the part of university staff, all the way to the top. 

In fact, the team’s head coach, Dave Bliss, was found to have ignored rape claims against his players, and was fired for it.  The school’s president, Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) resigned in the wake of the scandal.  

Just recently, the school moved to dismiss the charges in this lawsuit. It’s curious that they could deny wrongdoing when they know for a fact that these crimes were suppressed and they’ve let high-ranking personnel go because of it. Curious probably isn’t the right word. Criminal; that’s better.

Rape itself is already a horrifying crime. Anyone who has survived sexual assault can attest to the long-lasting damage it inflicts. But for an administration to willfully allow it in the name of a successful football program (which is ultimately money flowing into the school) — that is incredibly painful, too.

Often you hear of a crime like rape, or another crime, being “unspeakable.”  That was definitely the hope of the “leadership” at Baylor University. But this lawsuit looks to bring these crimes to light.  No victim of sexual assault should feel they are to blame, or without help and options. Hopefully this lawsuit, and the voices of the women represented in it, are heard on college campuses throughout the country.    


A. Big Country covers intersectional feminism and issues facing the LGBT community in sports, politics and more. Never complacent with what is widely accepted.

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