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Editorial: Lack of rape provision in UA code is disgusting

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 17, 2000
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Rape is allowed at the UA.

At least that's what Rebecca Isaac gathered from her experience trying to punish a student who she said raped her at a 1998 fraternity party.

Isaac, like the vast majority of women who are sexually assaulted, was not comfortable going to the police. She said she was disgusted and hurt and scared, and turned to her university for help, protection and justice.

But University of Arizona officials were not helpful. And even worse, the code of conduct was ill-equipped to protect her or provide justice.

Isaac's story presents a disgusting hole in the UA system - one that negates everything we are told about rape. Unfortunately, it's impossible to know how many women have fallen through that hole, because not everyone is as brave as Isaac.

In her code of conduct complaint from 1998, she reported going with a student to a pool room at a Kappa Sigma fraternity party, and being raped, bleeding from inside.

"I felt like I couldn't go to the police," she said. "(In a rape situation) you don't know which way is up."

Campus health officials told her one of her options was to go to the Dean of Students Office, where she filed the complaint - a gut-wrenching recollection of the night, followed by her examination at Campus Health. The idea that anyone could read the complaint and not take harsh action is unbelievable.

She took the step that many women don't make and spoke out about what happened.

Isaac said the student was put on probation, charged with alcohol violation and sent to Oasis for counseling, adding that while he admitted to intercourse, the investigation could not go any further.

But most disturbing is the fact that UA's code of conduct has no specific mention about sexual assault. It falls under the category of physical assault.

"I was raped twice - once by him and once by the school," Isaac said. "I was treated like I had done something wrong."

It is nauseating that an institution that attempts to be on the forefront of social and cultural growth would make someone reporting rape feel this way. It is more disgusting that our code of conduct - even if on principle alone - doesn't forbid sexual assault.

Even the student's fraternity reportedly asked him to leave after Isaac made a complaint to the national office.

Assistant Dean of Students Veda Hunn said the UA is working to add such a statement to the code, adding, "Behaviors have changed, issues have changed."

This issue has never changed, and never will. The only thing that needs to change is the way reported victims are treated.

Several resource centers offer help to students, encouraging them to come forward to prosecute, or file complaints about sexual assault experiences. But what good did it do Rebecca Isaac?

She has moved on to sharing her story with others, including lawmakers, to force universities to alter their codes of conduct.

Not many would be brave enough to shout this story out, and in doing so, Isaac has done the UA a favor for pointing out this horrible flaw in the system.

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