Kyle Richard, senior kinesiology major at SUNY Cortland, is a guest contributor for It’s On Us.
It was July 23rd, 2017, at 2am. My friends and I were at a party when a young male attempted to sexually assault a young woman. My friend, Sulaiman Aina, and I were directly able to break it up. Moments after speaking with the victim to clarify what was happening, I immediately went to look for the perpetrator. With him still in front of the house, I went to confront him. In the process of my sticking up for the victim, the perpetrator pulled a gun out and let off three shots, two bullets tearing through each of my legs and the last one sailing past me. Thirty seconds later the perpetrator shot at my friends, who had just gotten back from the diner. My friend, Michael Abiola, was shot in his shoulder and would recover more than a year later.
The world needs to know that this is no sob story. This is a story that has promoted bystander intervention and raised sexual violence awareness for thousands of people.
In the process of my sticking up for the victim, the perpetrator pulled a gun out and let off three shots, two bullets tearing through each of my legs and the last one sailing past me.
Being a student-athlete at SUNY Cortland, my dream after the incident was simply to get back to being able to play football. Only two months of rehab and I was just good enough to get back onto that field. I did not think much of what Sulaiman and I had done that early morning in July. In my head, what had happened that night was something that most people would do. Through research and personal stories that involved active bystanders, there was a realization that we live in a toxic culture that needs change. Now I speak out, usually while wearing my Cortland Football collared shirt, at a variety of events to spread awareness. If one football player can take a stand against sexual violence, maybe another athlete will.
One classmate spreading awareness will make other classmates spread awareness. Student leaders organizing and maximizing sexual/domestic violence awareness clubs will get more people involved. Fraternity leaders holding their brothers to a higher standard to treat people with respect. These should all be considered forms of bystander intervention in relationship with this toxic culture.
Now I speak out, usually while wearing my Cortland Football collared shirt, at a variety of events to spread awareness.
It is important for young men to fight against sexual assault, because the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are “male.” (I use male, not men, when describing perpetrators because I believe being a man means treating people with respect). Since we young men are so close to the root of the problem, we can be major leaders in changing rape culture. My message to athletes and other young men is that by standing up for somebody, known or random, you can become a hero in a person’s life. Be the person who tells somebody if there is no consent, there is no sex. Be the person who speaks out for campus safety.
That’s why I know the proposed rule changes to Title IX are disastrous—and something young men like myself have a responsibility to speak out against. Since joining the Trump administration in 2017 Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have claimed these changes to Title IX are intended to protect young men on campus. But I know—and young men all across this nation know—that these changes are really intended to sweep campus sexual assault under the rug and reduce the liability of colleges. We won’t be pawns in Sec. DeVos’s game. We will speak out against these changes.
Her plan to make off-campus incidents non-investigable, by the school the perpetrator and/or the victim attend, is unacceptable. In order to hold their perpetrators accountable, victims would have to face their perpetrators through live hearings. Meanwhile, their perpetrators will roam freely on campus until the misconduct investigation is completed. Victims already have trouble receiving justice. With the proposed Title IX rule changes, perpetrators will be more protected than ever before. We should be looking to support and believe the victims, not hurt them.
If you’re reading this go ahead and leave a comment that the department of education must read and respond to by visiting ItsOnUs.org/TitleIX. Help stop these rule changes!
Kyle Richard is an advocate for sexual violence prevention and bystander intervention. He works in connection with It’s On Us in the SUNY Cortland chapter. He is a senior kinesiology major at SUNY Cortland. Kyle has spoken at several educational institutions such as Stevens Institute of Technology, Cortland High School, Utica College, SUNY Cortland, Fashion Institute of Technology, etc.
Full Article Here