Friday, March 31, 2006
COLLEGE SHOCKER: Duke Dancer is a Student
According to the Duke Chronicle, the university's campus newspaper, the woman who was allegedly assaulted by members of the men's lacrosse team is a college student herself.
In this blame the victim world we live in, does her status change for you -- now that we know that she not only dances, but she matriculates at a place of higher learning? I have the feeling that officials at her university are embarrassed that one of their students has put the spotlight on the school in such an unfortunate way.
But people who were willing to condemn her for stripping and blame her for causing her own sexual assault are perhaps less judgmental, now that they know she was dancing to pay for a degree in say, marketing and communications. Or to pay for room and board in a campus dorm somewhere.
She is reportedly a co-ed at North Carolina Central University, the other school in Durham, NC. The one you never hear about. NCCU has over 8,000 undergaduate and graduate students. Duke has around 12,000.
One is predominantly white. The other, predominantly black. If you think diversity has taken hold in this former tobacco town, you would be mistaken.
What is surprising is the restraint the local Durham papers are using to keep the story off their front pages -- at least online. There are those who would like to make this incident a race issue, when it's probably just another example of the historically abusive behavior exhibited by male athletes of any race toward women.
Geraldo at Large, the last show I expected to do anything but sensational reporting about the controversy, interviewed a psychiatrist who specializes in male aggression. He pointed out that the number of assaults, sexual and otherwise, on college students is generally very low among the college population as a whole. But the percentage of those assaults by athletes is very high.
Charlie Rose was in the KA fraternity at Duke. They had a reputation for being an animal house. Maybe he'll interview Duke's president and have some pseudo-intellectual discussion about the role of stupidity in the decision making of spoiled scholarship athletes, when confronted with a person removing her clothes. Then they can compare and contrast pole dancing with dancing around the Maypole. Duke is nothing if not full of itself.
When I was a sophomore, a freshman I knew came to me with a stunning revelation. She described how two clean cut, well-liked fraternity guys I knew -- one of whom was a baseball player -- had invited her out to a cabin for a picnic and raped her.
This was before rape kits, rape counseling, DNA testing, or anything was available to help a young woman deal with a sexual attack. Especially by people she knew. I had no idea what to tell her to do. So it went unreported.
That was forty years ago. If there has been only one unreported campus rape per year since then, Duke could be up to forty by now -- and counting.
Perhaps the Duke lacrosse team can become the poster boys for all the arrogant and unrepentant college males who think that their status on campus gives them permission to forcibly take sexual liberties with a woman, if she won't give them up freely.
However, that won't happen. Scholarship athleties, particularly talented ones on a nationally ranked team live in a protective cocoon. Short of a miracle, or positive DNA tests, no one on the lacrosse team will suffer so much as a hang nail for their inappropriate behavior, which started with hiring a woman to strip.
That decision alone should be grounds for the whole team to be declared ineligible to play for the rest of the season.
Relax. It won't happen. Trust me. Nothing is going to happen. In fact, even if Duke announces that something is going to happen, it won't happen. Or it will look like it's happening and when the reporters and photographers leave, it will stop happening.
There is too much money and power at Duke between the university officials, parents and alums for this to become anything but an exercise in futility for the young woman who was brave enough to bring charges -- something she did with the tacit blessing of every other victimized college woman who has stayed silent out of fear.
And you thought lacrosse was a sissy sport.