Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Research Blog #8: Case

For my paper, I will be using multiple cases to illustrate my argument that universities go to high extents to protect their public reputations by keeping the "silence" of sexual assault on college campuses. To highlight one specific example, I studied the case of Erica Kinsman. On December 7th, 2012, Erica Kinsman who was an undergraduate at Florida State University, was raped by an unknown perpetrator after drinking at a local off-campus bar. After the rape, Erica got a rape test and went straight to the police. She eventually figured out that the man who raped her was James Winston, a star football player for the school. According to the The New York Times, investigators "delayed talking to witnesses, interviewing James Winston (the accused), and collecting his DNA". Throughout the whole legal process, both the school and police made virtually no investigation and there were injustices on all institutional levels. The police failed to initially contact Winston and the investigative officer, who happened to be a booster for the Seminole football team, suspended the investigation for months due to Erica's "uncooperative manner". (Ha!). It took 342 days for investigators to obtain DNA samples from Winston and almost a year after the rape was committed, the State Attorney Office announced that they would not be charging Winston. In 2014, two years after the report of rape, Florida State University "strongly recommends" that if there is an accusation of sexual assault it should be investigated and resolved within 60 days. 

This case speaks to my debate because Florida State University and the case of Erica Kinsman is a perfect example of how the school avoided to tarnish their "brand" and they went to extreme measures to protect a star athlete. Schools have a lot of control over how they handle rape cases and often times, do not prosecute individuals in the correct way or according to Title IX. Sexual assault is such a silent issue on college campuses because of institutional failure of reporting the crime and making victims feel isolated, alone, and not knowing who to turn to for help. Unfortunately, this issue turns victims away from reporting the crime because they either know the school will not help them or they do not want to be in the public eye. 

I have gotten a lot of my research and information from The Hunting Ground documentary. I really like this source because Erica Kinsman tells her own personal story and the directors lay out the case in detail. Additionally, I have read other material from newspaper articles that talk about Florida State's mistakes and settlement information. I would personally like to hear more about Jameis Winston's story if it was possible to get more details on that. It seems as though his side of the story is covered up and that he is protected by the school and lawyers. This information would be useful in investigating the unethical ways the school handled the crime.

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