On May 17th, OSU released the full report on the investigation of Richard Strauss, a team doctor that sexually abused 177 students from 1979-1999. Although these events occurred 30 years ago, the conclusion and results of this report highlight the crucial importance of this issue and how more seriously OSU needs to take it.
The sad fact is that sexual assault is a far too prevalent fact on college campuses. Thanks to the hard work done by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (and a big thanks to my colleague Savannah Deuer for providing this information), we can investigate just how many people become victims within the college atmosphere. Overall, nearly two thirds of college students experience sexual harassment with 27% of college women have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. This is an overwhelming number of students, and these statistics alone should make every college campus extremely conscientious of the problem. Perhaps even more concerning, however, is that 20% - 25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college. These statistics are even more concerning when occurring during a time when parts of the nation are working hard to essentially ban abortion access to women: often without exceptions for rape. And, without getting into the sociological discussion as to why the world is the way it is, it's important to note that more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, while a 2002 study revealed that 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes.
Given the prevalence of this issue, OSU has a history of inadequate action. One of the more shocking findings in the Strauss report is that many of the OSU university officials knew or had heard about the abuse and did nothing about it. This lack of action is horrifying, but OSU has admitted to its wrongdoing and has accepted full responsibility for their inaction. While I commend OSU for holding themselves accountable, this inadequacy has not only been a thing of the past: just last summer, they closed down a sexual assault investigation team after finding the team improperly handled their investigations. According to a review of the team, it was found that were not following university policies, told survivors to fake elements of their stories, and allowed survivors to be victim-blamed and told they were lying. Given that this was last summer, and that OSU often receives heavy criticism for how they handle mental health issues (something that sadly goes hand-in-hand with sexual assault), it's evidently clear that this issue is far from resolved. I will give credit to OSU for providing more resources and opportunities to give them a voice (as detailed in President Drake's message), but with the intense prevalence of sexual assaults, combined with their history of absolute inaction, it's not hard to argue that Ohio State has a long way to go.
However, there has been some positive responses to certain cases of sexual harassment and assault, and improvement is vital to this important issue. One of the creators at Odyssey, who has asked to remain nameless, was a victim this past two semesters of borderline sexual harassment by her ex-boyfriend. Since the victim and the ex lived on the same floor of a residence hall, the issue continued over several months and impacted the victim daily. The harassments were so bad that the victim had to report the ex-boyfriend to her RA, senior staff of the residence hall, and the police. The victim had to file a criminal report against the individual, and a misdemeanor was charged for his actions of violence, threatening behavior, emotional manipulation, stalking, and borderline sexual harassment (through his words and text messages to the victim describing rape and other horrible acts). The victim had multiple meetings with RAs, senior staff, counselors, and the OSU Title IX office to try and resolve this issue. A no-contact order was established between the victim and the ex-boyfriend, and Title IX was involved to do a possible criminal investigation of the individual. Victim, however, denied this option in order to focus on moving on. The process of filing a criminal report, speaking to Title IX, and trying to recover from such an event was catastrophic at times and can impact a person's day-to-day activities. But, the actions of OSU had a large and important impact on the victim, who was able to obtain counseling and begin to move on from the event. The OSU Title IX office, as well as the OSU Police Department's actions, allowed the victim some level of closure and safety during a very difficult time. Ohio State does offer different resources for those who have suffered any type of abuse, whether it be sexual assault or otherwise.
If you or someone you know has struggled with sexual assault or any crime, contact the OSU Title IX office or the OSU Counseling or Consultation service. If you or someone you know was a victim of Strauss, athleteabuse.com is offering resources to victims and working to hold Ohio State responsible for the results of the investigation. Ohio State is also offering free professionally certified counseling, with more details available in President Drake's message.