Disturbing allegations that USF student Ryan Caskey has raped and assaulted four other students on campus have led to many strong reactions from the university community: fear, sadness, rage, disgust and confusion to name a few.
Last Thursday, a group of students affiliated with the unofficial club Radical Priorities organized a public forum that they advertised as an opportunity to express these emotions.
The Foghorn attended the forum, delighted at the idea of a supportive dialogue between members of a community that had just suffered a serious blow, but was appalled to see how the forum took shape in actuality.
The self-proclaimed “concerned students” who organized the event seemed primarily concerned with determining in which direction(s) to point their fingers rather than how they could best support each other in this difficult time.
Students who spoke at the forum had a long list of grievances against various departments of the university. Many pointed fingers at Daniel Lawson, director of public safety at USF, for not releasing copious amounts of information about the incidents. Lawson told the Foghorn last week that he provided the community with the pertinent details that were in his power to provide. Lawson was bound by an agreement with the San Francisco Police Department to release very little information, as the case was out of his hands and into theirs as soon as Caskey was arrested.
One student complained that the way students were informed of the incidents – via e-mail – was insufficient.
The Foghorn cannot understand what this individual was hoping for: a personal phone call?
But most of all, many of these angry students had it in for USF’s ROTC, of which Caskey was a member for four years. The students complained that the inherent patriarchal structure of the military made sexual assault towards women a natural next step. Forget about the ROTC’s many female members – the military teaches violence, and rape and sexual assault are forms of violence, they said. Despite 94 out of 95 ROTC cadets not having been accused of rape, the entire program ought to be shut down as a precautionary measure?
Questioning the legitimacy of having an ROTC program on campus is an argument that may be worth having. There are valid student concerns about ROTC that can be expressed in the appropriate context. However, using this isolated rape incident as a springboard to launch an attack against ROTC and its legitimacy on this campus is far-fetched and irresponsible.
Before we discuss banning ROTC, we have to take into account the effect that would have on diversity of the USF community. If we ban ROTC solely on the ideas for which it stands, we are crossing over into censorship.
Ultimately, The Foghorn would like to remind the USF community to not sensationalize when they cannot possibly know enough to draw conclusions yet. There are very few who know the truth about whether the accusations made against Caskey are true: him and the alleged victims. The legal system of the United States is designed to carefully and fairly try accused persons under the guideline of “innocent until proven guilty.”
The Foghorn stands 100 percent against rape and sexual assault, and hopes that whether Caskey is proven guilty or innocent, justice is served.
The Foghorn also hopes that when the next forum is held, (Thurs. Feb. 26 at 12:15 in Parina Lounge) more students come to open-mindedly discuss the issues at hand rather than closed-mindedly placing blame and pointing fingers.
This forum was a step in the right direction towards open campus discussions about topics we are often reluctant to talk about. We look forward to similar debates among members of the USF community on a variety topics that are of concern to us all.