According to RaINN.org, one in six women will be the victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.
In 2014, 12,551 students were enrolled at YSU; 6,685 were women. Statistically, about 1,114 of those women will or have already experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetime.
In 2012, two 16-year-old high school football players were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl and documenting the assault on social media while all were under the influence of alcohol.
In 2013, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays were tried as juveniles and received a mandated sentence with the possibility of remaining in juvenile detention until age 21.
Richmond was released in January 2014, and Mays was released in January 2015. Neither of them registered as sexual offenders.
Mays is currently playing football for Central State University in Ohio, also causing controversy.
The announcement that Richmond would be playing football for Youngstown State University has caused great controversy and led to a petition for his removal from the team.
In a matter of hours, the petition had thousands of signatures, and in a matter of days there were thousands more.
Katelyn Davis, creator of the petition, wrote:
“Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU’s campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not.”
Much of this controversy stems from Richmond being allowed to play for YSU, not because he is on campus. For the past year, Richmond has been at YSU without incident, but many who signed the petition did not want him representing their school as a division one football player.
YSU responded to the petition, but not in the way the people wanted.
Despite over 10,000 signatures to the petition stating they do not want Richmond on the team, YSU announced he will remain on the team as a practice player and only surrender a year of eligibility.
“YSU does not restrict any student’s ability to take part in extracurricular activities as long as they are in good standing with the institution. YSU believes that extracurricular activities assist in a student’s ability to succeed,” a statement emailed to the campus community said.
A statement such as this makes it seem like YSU did not take the concerns of the many people who signed the petition seriously, but it seems like they at least tried to meet both sides of the issue halfway.
YSU cannot be held responsible for punishing people for a crime they’ve already been punished by the state for, but they also cannot ignore an entire community who say otherwise.
The petition to remove him had thousands of signatures, while another petition to keep him had thousands also. There was no way to make a decision that would make everyone happy, so they compromised the best they could by letting him practice but taking away game time for a year.
At the end of the day, YSU probably did the best they could do from an administrative perspective, and although they probably faced backlash from both sides, we should be thankful they at least tried to do something.
With Richmond now a face of the university because of all the media attention, as well as such emphasis placed on athletics, YSU should consider those on campus who have faced sexual assault and do more to address the issue and make people feel like the university cares and they are safe here.