Last week, 21-year-old Brock Turner, who was found guilty of sexual assault, was released after serving only three months in jail. Turner was convicted last year after he was found assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in Santa Clara, California, according to the CBC.
The former Stanford University student faced a minimum of two years in prison—with a maximum sentence of 14 years, according to The Huffington Post. He was convicted for six months, and released after three due to good behaviour.
His freedom has sparked outrage across social media, with many expressing their disbelief with Judge Aaron Persky, who granted Turner his freedom.
Turner’s defense relied heavily on the fact that he was a swimmer—a good one, with a bright future ahead of him. The conversation became about Turner and his future, and how the events of that night in Santa Clara would haunt him forever, as if being an athlete somehow diminishes the seriousness of what he did.
This news caused us to spew out our black coffee in disarray here at the offices of The Concordian. How in the world can a person convicted of sexual assault spend just a few weeks in jail? This is absolutely unacceptable, and we believe stricter action needs to be taken when addressing the issue of campus rape and assault.
The issue hits close to home, considering a few individuals on our masthead have experienced some degree of sexual assault. Furthermore, our own university was impacted by the Mei-Ling case that proved Concordia is not immune to campus rape culture. For those unfamiliar with the case, Mei-Ling was a representative of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), and discovered messages between two of her colleagues that portrayed her as an inferior sexual object.
The story broke in The Montreal Gazette and spurred a movement to address rape culture on our campus. We like to think that our university is progressive, with a dedicated Sexual Assault Resource Centre and a Centre for Gender Advocacy, but the fact remains that the measures put in place to enact justice on society still aren’t equipped and willing to deal with this.
On a national level, we saw the media circus surrounding the Jian Ghomeshi trial, and how the legal system essentially focused on the women and tore apart their credibility and dignity. Meanwhile Ghomeshi got off scot-free, even though there had been rumors circulating for years that he was a predator, and that journalism students shouldn’t apply for internships with him, according to the Toronto Star.
We call upon the court in Santa Clara, California to reexamine Brock Turner’s case, considering they are allowing a rapist to walk freely once again after just 90 days. We believe Turner deserves more time in prison to set an example that rape and sexual assault has no place on campus, or in our society. He should pay for his crime.
Turner blamed his actions on alcohol. He blamed campus drinking culture. His father wrote a passionate letter claiming that his son shouldn’t have his life ruined because of “20 minutes of action.” What seems to be lacking from this discourse, however, is how the victim felt, and how these “20 minutes” will forever be the worse minutes of her life. Turner served his sentence. A measly 12 weeks, the length of the average internship. His victim will wear the scars of his attack on her soul for the rest of her life. For her, and all those who have been unjustly taken advantage of and treated as objects rather than people, Turner’s sentence serves as a jarring reminder that, at the end of the day, the burden of sexual assault still rests with the assaulted.