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College Athletics & the Campus Rape Epidemic

Florida State QB Jameis Winston, accused of rape. The university and local police have been implicated in a coverup. Photo: Fox Sports Florida State QB Jameis Winston, accused of rape. The university and local police have been implicated in a coverup. Photo: Fox Sports

College is a place where young people are meant to learn, thrive, and enjoy life, and a university is always responsible for providing a safe campus environment for the well-being of the student community. Students have every right to their own personal safety, especially from sexual assault. What happens when colleges fail to live up to these standards? You'll see the news headlines regularly featuring stories of campus rape, with little follow-up on addressing the prevalence of this crime.

As of late there have been numerous campus sexual assaults reported in the media, with the legal status of each varying from case to case. At Stanford, a 19-year-old star swimmer was just arrested after being caught allegedly raping an unconscious female outside of a frat party - the suspect is under arrest and banned from campus. Dartmouth has banned hard liquor and instituted a continuous four-year program of sexual violence prevention. And at Vanderbilt, two football players were convicted Tuesday for perpetrating a gang rape in 2013.

So are colleges getting serious about the campus rape epidemic? Despite some harsh words, plenty of "awareness" programs, and lots of announcements on new initiatives, the simple truth is that college rapists have a better chance of escaping justice. A study by the Justice Department proves it - from 1995 to 2013, 80 percent of campus rapes went unreported as opposed to 67% in the general population.

One important reason why can be found in the excuses made by university administrations whenever star athletes are accused of sexual assault. From Florida State to Mizzou to Notre Dame and beyond, there are numerous suspicious cases pointing to cover-ups of atrocious criminal behavior. We are witnessing a general breakdown in accountability - if the university quarterback can get away with rape, then other predators can, too.

Bad conduct is being rewarded. It's better to face hard facts than to tacitly permit further sexual violence: universities have failed system-wide to provide their students a safe environment. As long as schools continue to prioritize big money for athletic programs instead of protecting their students from rape, the mayhem won't stop. Let's stop enabling campus rape when it's profitable - victims of sexual assault and the entire student community deserve better.

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