No college campus is immune to rape and sexual assault. Not one.
That’s one of the points that people of religious faith especially need to take away from the revelations and terminations involving the football program and overall school leadership at Baylor University, a Baptist school of nearly 17,000 students in Waco, Texas. There, numerous cases of sexual violence by football players and cover ups by coaches and administrators led today to the firing (or to paraphrase the Board of Regents, the indefinite suspension with intent to terminate) of an incredibly successful head football coach and the demotion of a nationally-known school president.
One of the lines that stands out to me in the board’s findings of fact is that some administrators thought sexual violence couldn’t happen at the Christian university, well-known for its cultural conservatism. (It bans students from drinking alcohol; it did not even permit on-campus dances until the mid-1990s.) Tragically, these administrators influenced the investigations into reports of gender-based violence.
They didn’t believe it happened there. Their school community’s religious faith and conservative code of student conduct meant it couldn’t happen there.
But it did. Many times.
It can happen anywhere.
Last month, I had the opportunity to speak at another Christian college, Biola University in the Los Angeles area. I was one of the speakers for the school’s Sexual Violence Prevention Week, which had as its theme “It’s on Us Biola.” One of my main points was that sexual violence happens there, just like at any other college. Just because all students profess religious faith and are required to adhere to an alcohol-free, sexually chaste code of conduct does not mean it couldn’t happen there.
Because it does. It happens at every college, public or private, religious or not.
I humbly offer the video of my message, presented to a gathering of approximately 650 Biola students. Many of you know that I’m an evangelical Christian and a former longtime church minister, so please pardon me if I come across in the video as being too preachy. I felt it was vital to impress on that evening’s audience the importance and urgency of my topic, to help them understand that sexual violence happens there – and that they can work together to stop it.
Eugene Hung writes the Raising Asian Daughters blog (formerly known as the Raising Asian American Daughters blog) for Asiance Magazine. He is an advocate for social justice and especially for the rights of women, girls, and Native peoples. Follow the Raising Asian Daughters page on Google+ and Eugene’s Twitter account @eughung.