Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Quiet Crisis

Every coeducational college in the world secretly has a problem with rape.  They do a much better job now of educating the community about the problem, and that makes a considerable improvement, but it still happens.

It happens because you have a population of young people who are almost all away from home for the first time in their lives and living with almost no supervision for the first time in their lives.  Add to that lots of people using drugs and alcohol (sometimes for the first time) and lots of small enclosed spaces where couples can be alone, and it's a tinderbox.

There's also a problem in that sexual experiences can become social currency.  It's worse for boys, but girls do it too.  There also becomes a pretty serious problem where the accused is very popular, and the accuser is not.   That by itself can lead to serious problems with achieving a just outcome.

Even now, most rapes go unreported.  Girls blame themselves or don't want their private lives exposed, or for any number of other reasons, they choose to swallow this trauma rather than deal with it.  

George Harmon had an unwritten rule that if you were accused, you were gone.  It didn't matter if the boy was legally charged or convicted; he considered them a liability and didn't want them around.  If he considered a student to be a threat to the institution, he could be ruthless at getting rid of them.  Sometimes, the accused's lawyer would force his hand, and the school had to accept back a student who was accused but not charged or convicted.  

Another reason he wanted these people out of the community was that if somebody is accused of rape and then returns, there's a pretty good chance that somebody is going to take the girl's side and take a poke at the guy's chin.  That actually happened once.  I had to break it up.  

I'm thinking, more and more, that this sort of event might be the climax of my book.  I cover a lot of these issues, particularly that of the accused being very popular and the accuser being very unpopular.  I can write that kind of action pretty well, I think.  A fight can be an exciting thing to read.  It might also give the reader some sense that justice was served, even if it's really hard to tell if it actually was or wasn't.

Donna Tartt's first book dealt with a murder on campus.  Mine has a crime too, but considerably less dramatic.  I'm hoping that makes it feel more real.  

No comments:

Official Ted Lasso