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Consider the consequences

Observer Editorial | Friday, October 10, 2003

Rape. It’s an issue typically not pondered in everyday life. It is an issue that few people willingly admit they fear. It is an issue that people tend to dismiss as a reality in their own lives, an issue that is not addressed as often as it perhaps should – until it hits close to home.For the Notre Dame community, it already has.Although alleged incidents of rape have dotted Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s records in the past, few have been as publicly scrutinized as the charges filed against former football players Abram Elam, Donald Dykes, Lorenzo Crawford and Justin Smith for their participation in a March 2002 incident in which a former student claimed the men gang raped her.On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Maureen Devlin announced her intent to file a motion dismissing charges against Crawford and Smith, the final two defendants to be tried. Devlin was relatively unsuccessful in prosecuting Dykes and Elam and said her decision to file the motion to dismiss came, in part, after considering how likely it would be for her to obtain a conviction. She also noted that the “prosecution of a case involves the utilization of substantial resources and involves an emotional and financial price for the victim, the witnesses and the community at large.”A year and a half after the incident occurred, there is finally some closure. But in the process, five students’ lives were turned upside down. All had to place their lives on hold as the incident was deliberated in the criminal justice system, and the men were expelled from school and stigmatized as sex offenders.College is supposed to be a worry-free place where students can do as they please. But this incident and others show that going out and partying without thinking of the consequences can have drastic consequences – for both men and women.A man has the responsibility to control his behavior and not take advantage of a woman who has been drinking. A woman has the responsibility to use caution in deciding to go home with a group of men, especially if she has been drinking.Random hookups, and occasional one-night stands, dominate the relationship scene at Notre Dame. But students should consider the consequences that one night could have on the rest of their lives. If you asked the woman if she regretted going to the off-campus house and the football players if they regretted their decision to have sex with the woman, they would certainly say yes.Learn from their mistakes, assess your behavior and help prevent future incidents from occurring.