Letter to the Editor: Reader responds to sexual assault conversation

March 11, 2015

I have read about the sexual assault case in your paper as well as the responses, including one from a professor.  I find it difficult to keep a calm mind about the entire situation as there are several aspects which appall me.

First, from a legal perspective, I am disappointed that the Walworth County DA did not follow through with this case.  I encourage people to learn about sexual assault in the legal sense.  Wisconsin Statute 940.225 covers Sexual Assault and it may surprise people to truly understand what the terms “consent” and “sexual intercourse” mean in the eyes of the law.  With DNA evidence as well as a witness statement concerning the female student’s intoxicated condition, I find it disconcerting that the district attorney did not continue with the case.

Secondly, from a social perspective, I am absolutely appalled at the underlying message that this situation has sent members of the college community. There seems to be a dismissiveness concerning what had happened to the female student.  This sentiment may, unfortunately, lead to future assailants being even bolder.  Although my confidence in the Walworth County DA doing what is right has diminished, I hope that any future victims find the strength to come forward.

Thirdly, although I am sure there were good intentions behind the March 4 Letter to the Editor by Dr. Zunac, I am troubled by what I read.  As for popular culture, sexuality in songs have been around for quite a long time and trying to make the connection between current popular songs and the behavior of the younger generation dates back well into the last century.  However, I am unsure what connections Dr. Zunac may have been trying to make.  As for statistics concerning sexual assaults on college campuses, there is no need to cast doubt about the legitimacy of these statistics by calling them “slightly suspect,” especially after a case has been dismissed.

I absolutely disagree with Dr. Zunac’s alleging a connection between the intentions (as well as actions) of “predatory males” and his assessment that we live in a “culture that glorifies sexual liberation and sex itself.”  Sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter how one decides to label the circumstances.  Such nonchalant connections may lead to rationalizing and even defending the actions of future assailants while dismissing the victim.  Although it may not have been his intent, Dr. Zunac certainly seemed overly judgmental concerning the social activities of students rather than concentrating on the facts of the case.

I applaud Dr. Zunac for trying to convey the message that people should look out for one another and take on more responsibility.  However, his comments comparing his defined “rape culture” of today to his yearning of the moderate restraints indoctrinated during the “heady days of patriarchy” are themselves patriarchal.  His comparison may also lead a reader to wonder what could possibly be the difference between the sexual assaults committed then versus now.  I don’t see how one could even try to make such distinctions without being dismissive and insensitive towards the victims of one (or both) of these eras.

I would like to thank the Royal Purple for publishing the facts about the case as well as the responses to the case.  Through these readings, it has become blatantly obvious that every member of the college community could benefit from discussing these topics.  I would hope that we could diminish the judgments concerning how others express themselves while encouraging each member of our community to do what is right.

Jeff Ehren

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