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How the ACU bubble fuels the sexual assault cycle

By Madeline Orr
Posted on February 26, 2015 | Columns | 3 comments

I have never been more aware of the existence of the “ACU bubble” or convinced of the sense of conservatism on our campus until last Friday when the Optimist reported on a student who was indicted for sexual assault.

Not all, but a good sum of students reacted to the story in a manner that showed me a side of ACU students I hadn’t seen before. They called on the Optimist to release the alleged victim’s name. They posted angry Facebook comments about how it made the accused “look bad” and not the victim.

This has absolutely nothing to do with whether Jacob Windsor is guilty. It has everything to do with the fact that the opinions and accusations some students expressed are exactly what perpetuate the rape culture mainstream society is currently fighting against.

One of the problems with sexual assault, especially on college campuses, is that victims don’t come forward and report incidents when they have been sexually assaulted because they are afraid they will be accused of lying. This fear sounds silly, but at universities, where identities and associations are fragile and permanent for at least four years, anxiety ensues when they are labeled “liar.”

This is not just at ACU; this is across the country. In September, President Obama launched a campaign targeting ways to end sexual assault on college campuses. “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years – one in five,” the President said. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.”

However, what does seem specific to ACU and not to other college campuses is the way students respond when sexual assault cases finally do surface. Other larger and more liberal universities tend to jump on the victim’s side, assuming the accused is automatically a rapist. While this response isn’t reasonable, neither is the opposite – accusing the victim of playing victim or lying – which is what some ACU students have said.

So for anyone, or in this case ACU students, to speak out in a way that confirms the victim’s fear, is only going to propagate the sexual assault cycle. This cycle is one in which offenders go unreported and continue to assault new victims who continue to not report or speak up out of fear of their accusers.

Covering allegations of sexual assault in the Optimist is not to make statements about the accused or the accuser, but to report the news. And by reporting the news that people are capable of being sexually assaulted at ACU, is how we are refusing to let the cycle of unreported cases continue.

For every ignorant student comment that was made last week, other students came to me privately saying they were thankful for our coverage. They told me they had been sexually assaulted, that they didn’t report it and that they knew that same person had gone on to assault other people.

That’s the power of media. Here’s to hoping it’s strong enough to burst some students’ bubbles.

avatar Posted by Madeline Orr on Feb 26th, 2015 and filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 18672 times.

3 Responses for “How the ACU bubble fuels the sexual assault cycle”

  1. avatar insignificant-starts-with-i says:

    It is very true that rape culture is alive and well, and it is not just on ACU and other conservative campuses. It can be seen every time people question what a victim was wearing or their behavior, as if they are responsible for someone else’s actions. It is easy to see rape culture every time the news media talks about how the lives of perpetrators who are known to be guilty will be ruined forever, such as In the Steubenville rape case that became so well known a few years ago. It is obvious when people demonize survivors of assault that there is a problem. And it happens across the country, on campuses, in homes, on the news, in movies and tv. This response here at ACU is just representative of the widespread belief that all accusers are liars.

    It is true that there are false reports of rape, but the rates are estimated to be anywhere from 2% to 8%, with the true number likely being inflated by the many cases where survivors are pressured by law enforcement and other authorities to withdraw their accusation. So in the vast majority of cases, accusers are speaking the truth, and I will believe them. It IS ignorant to believe that most victims are lying.

    Thank you for writing this article.

  2. avatar hst11a says:


    Thank you for your difference in opinion. I respect the fact that we do not agree, however that does not give you the right to call the ACU students who disagree with you ignorant. Has the Optimist really come to calling students who disagree ignorant? You do realize that their is a LARGE number of people that you just called ignorant.

    Here is the definition of ignorant: lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
    This is what you called a large number of ACU students.
    According to this article, because I disagree I am uneducated, unsophisticated, and lacking in knowledge.

    You make good points throughout your article, but the minute I read “For every ignorant student comment that was made last week” everything you wrote becomes invalid. All you have done by writing ignorant is make the people that disagree with the Optimist even more upset with this newspaper.

    I think it is necessary for an apology to the ACU students who commented or disagreed with you.

    To end, Ms.Orr you are an excellent writer and are strongly opinionated. This makes you a great writer and I respect your opinion, however it is unprofessional to call people who disagree with you ignorant.

    • avatar Eld says:

      “For every ignorant student comment…”

      I feel compelled to note that the author did not, in fact, call anyone ignorant; she only called the comments themselves ignorant.

      However, if you’ll excuse my unprofessional manner, anyone who participates in victim shaming and blaming is most probably ignorant indeed — and frankly, that won’t change simply because there happens to be lot of them.

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