New book reveals scary reality of sexual assaults on college campuses

March 18, 2017 10:30 pm
Warning: Content may disturb
The cheerleader didn’t know what was happening as she was dragged out of the car.
Her boyfriend and his football buddies had complete control of her as they led her down a hallway towards a university dorm room.
The cheerleader’s body was dropped to the floor and the men took out their phones and took photos of her.

Brandon Vandenburg carries his unconcious victim towards a dorm room. Photo / Supplied

Her boyfriend, Brandon Vandenburg, was a prized athlete at the prestigious Vanderbilt University in Nashville and as his friends filmed his incoherent girlfriend, he threw a towel over the camera.
It turned into a gang rape so horrific, it involved water bottles, physical assault and urination.

Her football star boyfriend acted like the perfect gentleman, telling her she was sick in the room and he cleaned it up and took care of her. She was embarrassed and apologised.The cheerleader woke up the next morning, covered in bruises and with no recollection of what had happened.
Footage later emerged of what really happened that night. Vandenburg claimed his girlfriend was sexually assaulted in front of him and didn’t do anything, but the footage told a different story.
During the court case, the prosecution said the cheerleader was facedown on a tiled floor in Vandenburg’s dorm and raped for 30 minutes.
He was later found guilty on multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery and convicted of one count of unlawful photography. For the 2013 attack, he was sentenced to 17 years behind bars.
American Hookup
This is just one of the harrowing stories around hookup culture at college campuses, in the and in Australia.
It’s all about the athletes and frat boys. They are the campus gods, girls want them, and other men want to be them.
This gives them a sense of entitlement and status, one that leads them to sometimes blur the lines when it comes to consensual sex and rape.
Occidental College Sociology Professor Lisa Wade has spent years investigating the college hookup culture and after visiting 24 institutions and hearing first-hand accounts from students, she’s discovered athletes and popular frat boys are often the main perpetrators of sexual assaults.
Professor Wade has recently released a book, American Hookup, about how status means some can get away with sexual coercion and violence more often and more easily than others.

Brock Turner was sentenced to prison but released in September last year after serving just three months. Photo / Supplied

Brock Turner thought he was one of them. He was wrong.
In January 2015, Stanford University student Turner raped a 22-year-old woman behind a garbage bin after a frat party.
In a powerful victim impact statement she told Turner, who was on the swim team, about how she ended up on a gurney with dried blood and bandages wrapped around her limbs.
She thought she had fallen, until she was told she had been sexually assaulted.
“I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them,” she said.
“I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs.”
Turner was sentenced to prison but released in September last year after serving just three months.
About 80 per cent of college sexual assaults go unreported, and Professor Wade wrote in The Conversation it was because it was a lot harder to go up against the popular student or sports star. Some victims think it subjects them to ridicule or that nobody would take their side.
Professor Wade collected about 100 journals from students about life on college during the first year of study and found the campus kings often believed they could do no wrong.
“Evidence suggests they’re more likely to be confused about consent and admit to having committed acts of sexual aggression,” Professor Wade wrote.
She believed a high status gave students sexual access and people who hooked up with them often did so in the hope they would enhance their own popularity.
One young woman told Professor Wade “it’s almost bragging rights if you hook up with a guy with a higher social status”.
Another wrote in her journal the whole point was “to get some and then be able to point the person out to your friends and be like, ‘yeah, that guy. That’s right. The hot one over there. I got that’.
“Frat stars and athletes – those are the only ones that matter. I mean, honestly,” a student at Duke University told Professor Wade.
The researcher said the star status gave frat boys and athletes ample opportunities to 
hook up with girls, sometimes opening them up to commit sexual assaults.
“It’s expected in hookup culture that students will get people drunk with the aim of having sex with them; be sexually persistent, even forceful; pull peers into secluded parts of a party; and proceed quickly to sexual intercourse, even when their partners are near incapacitation,” Professor Wade wrote.
While high status students like athletes and frat boys are at risk of taking advantage of women because they have a lot of sexual opportunities, she said it was also because they would rarely be stopped by those who saw it happening.
“The social power of some athletes may make it harder for peers to interrupt a potential assault when they see one happening. Students are in a social hierarchy and they know it,” Professor Wade wrote.
“As numerous students revealed during my interviews, it’s one thing to pull a drunken peer out of the arms of some guy who lives down the hall; it’s entirely another to do so when he’s one of the most prominent and well-loved students on campus.
“When bystanders don’t intervene, it’s left up to victims to come forward and prevent future assaults themselves.
“When students have been victimised by celebrated athletes, how much more bravery is required – especially if the victim doesn’t have equal standing on campus?”
Professor Wade said in the last five years, there had been at least 19 universities slammed for responses to campus assaults.
“Certain people can get away with sexual coercion and violence more often and more easily than others. On college campuses, hookup culture is part of why,” Professor Wade said.
“Intervening as a bystander is difficult enough already, but my research has shown that students are even less inclined to do so when it means confronting someone with substantially more social power. And when men and women are assaulted by high-profile athletes or other high status students, they may fear that reporting will bring further suffering – this time at the hands of their peers and their institutions.”
Skip to toolbar
shared on