Indiana Daily Student

EDITORIAL: New athletics policy on sexual violence gets it right

If you can run fast enough or throw a ball far enough, you probably won’t suffer many consequences for sexually assaulting someone if you’re punished at all.

In the current climate, it is standard practice for universities to say on paper that they value the well-being of all their students and then show in practice that they actually value most the students who can make them the most money.

Colleges like Baylor University, Pennsylvania State University and Florida State University have come under fire in recent history for trying to cover up incidents of sexual violence in athletics.

Thankfully, IU is now taking a stronger official stance against the immoral hypocrisy of such practices.

Approved by the IU-Bloomington Faculty Athletics Committee on April 12, a new policy will make prospective student athletes with histories of sexual violence ineligible for practice, competition or sports-related financial aid at IU. Though this is a blanket policy, an appeals process exists that will allow a student athlete to go before a board of administrators to hear their case.

IU Athletics Director Fred Glass composed the policy in collaboration with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Office of Student Welfare and Title IX.

Under this new policy, IU’s athletic programs will bar participation to “any prospective student-athlete — whether a transfer student, incoming freshman or other status — who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual 
violence.”

Sexual violence refers to “dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual violence as defined by the Indiana University Policy on Sexual 
Misconduct.”

It is disappointing to realize that the University is only just now making this kind of stand in its formal policy, but the Editorial Board commends IU for being the first school in the Big Ten to do so. The Big Ten’s current policy leaves each school to set its own rules on this issue.

“My hope is that we’re leading in this area, and maybe others will follow with, maybe not the exact same policy, but one that fits their particular institutions,” Glass told the 
Indianapolis Star.

Of the many heinous ways that institutions of all kinds prioritize profit over ethical decision-making, the tendency of universities to shield student athletes from the consequences of committing acts of sexual violence is particularly 
problematic.

No reasonable person would say that the better you can dribble a basketball, the more you can violate another individual without facing retribution.

It is necessary that we demonstrate in both words and actions that we do not value some students’ athletic abilities over other students’ basic rights of safety and wellbeing.

Policies such as IU’s are crucial parts of the necessary fight to dismantle rape culture on college campuses, and we are proud of our university for working to establish itself as a leader in that fight.

We say that we are one IU — that we live in a culture of care and that it’s on us to stop sexual violence. Thanks to recent administrative efforts, these words now carry more weight.

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