Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cornering Eugene's Bad Guys

Oregon Daily Emerald - 09/18/00

A night spent cavorting with some of the Eugene Police Department’s best reveals what it’s like to take the law into your own hands; as an officer of the law, that is.

Gripping the passenger side door, I was in a car hurtling down Sixth Avenue in the wee morning hours at more than 100 miles per hour. I wasn't a victim of a drag racing driver nor on my way to any hospital.
No, I was in the passenger seat of a police car, surrounded by as many gadgets as an airplane cockpit, with Officer Mark Hubbard in hot pursuit of some runaway bikers -- the BMX type, not motorcyclists.

As my first ride in a police car -- and fortunately in the passenger side rather than the back -- there was a lot to see, despite what Hubbard described as a "slow Wednesday night." Which meant no bloodshed, drug users or dead bodies. All of which aren't unusual sights for a Eugene Police Department officer.

Hubbard, who has been in the force for two years, said an officer never knows what he could be up against on a call. It could be a frightened woman calling because her dog treed a raccoon, and won't stop barking. But just as likely, it could be a man strung out on meth and booze who assaulted his wife in front of his kids and refused to see the blue uniform as a stop sign.

Hubbard stressed that police must be objective when arriving on the scene. In his words, "practice the Golden Rule." But break the rules or try to assault an officer, and that objective view becomes a defensive one, where decisions are instinctive and officers must react reflexively, using their training to keep themselves, as well as other citizens, safe from lawbreakers.

"You don't really think of it 'til afterwards," Hubbard said. "But then you think back and think 'Wow, that was pretty hairy'."

Hubbard recounted the story of that boozed-up husband on meth, who after beating up his wife, went after the officers arriving on the scene. It took two officers to hold down the man and a third to cuff him, a result of his hyper-charged drug state.

Of course, patrol duty has more than its fair share of noise violations, interviews and -- yawn -- routine traffic stops. Our first task of the night was interviewing an assault victim.

A young man in the downtown mall had been beaten unconscious after slapping a teenage girl on the rear. The events weren't exactly clear, as the witnesses gave conflicting accounts and the victim had his memory literally almost knocked out of him, along with four teeth and a broken nose and cheek. And the young girl and five assailants didn't stick around to be interrogated, something not uncommon in the mall, where many young adults are transients.

After re-interviewing the victim at Sacred Heart Hospital, we took a call for a noise violation. I followed Hubbard, toting my big plastic "police observer" label which hung around my neck like a kindergartner's name tag. The apartment was quiet when we arrived, and when Hubbard questioned as to the prior noise, the answer of "we're watching Letterman, so we wouldn't turn the music up" seemed acceptable.

The rule of thumb displayed by Hubbard and other EPD officers I had a chance to observe during the late night and early morning was definitely an objective one. If people cooperated and were straightforward, they consistently got off with a warning. Jaywalking and loud music were stereotypes, but was not limited to drivers who had committed traffic violations.

Surprisingly, Hubbard did not pull drivers over for speeding; his squad car is not equipped with a radar. Only sheriff's vehicles and a select number of squad cars have radars, though Hubbard noted excessive speed as a surefire way to be noticed by an officer and to be pulled over.

In most cases during the ride-along, speeding cars caught Hubbard's attention, but were pulled over for an additional violation, such as changing lanes within 100 feet of an intersection or driving with fog lights only.

During a lull in activity, in which some cops often park and talk in order to keep themselves alert during the late night shifts, we took a tour of the downtown police station. We traversed through the dispatch center and the interrogation rooms, which come in two styles: Comfy with couches or chilling with stark bolted down furniture and two temporary holding cells, which were just as small and dingy as their TV alternatives displayed.

In the evidence room, a huge plastic tub full of needles marked with the biohazard warnings caught my eye. Of course, I had to ask the question if they were actually used needles, which launched more stories of drug users.

What I found to be most incredulous was that you can actually be walking down the street, higher than a kite, and as long as you're not breaking a law, the police can't cite you, regardless of your age. They can take you to detox, but as long as you have no drugs on your possession and aren't driving a vehicle, no ticket or arrest. However, I, as a 20-year-old, can be cited for walking down the street after enjoying a glass of wine (or a case of beer) with my parents. Interesting the way things work.

I also learned the wide variety of reactions to police presence. Almost without exception, the sight of the uniform and badge commanded respect and politeness into the hearts of all ne'er-do-wells, noise violators and fog light drivers. Most of the people pulled over or talked to were very courteous -- it's interesting what putting your insurance rate on the line will do to you -- and were extremely appreciative when they were let off with a warning.

Among the other officers, there was definitely a bond apparent when they jousted each other about their spouses' cooking, their exercise regimens and the collars of their uniforms. They were casual and friendly, and included me in their conversation, filling me in on layman's terms for police-speak. They also taught me the ways of being an effective detective, such as not slamming the police car door when exiting to cover a house.


One University student gave me a perspective on police even fresher than my own. Wyel, an exchange student from Jerusalem, had his first encounter with the EPD outside of Doc's Pad, where Hubbard and two other officers were ensuring party-goers had a safe ride home.

After noticing us while tangoing with a new found love in the parking lot, Wyel decided to see what all the talk was really about. He told the officers that everyone he talked to since being in Eugene said to avoid the EPD at all costs, and was polite enough to refrain from using any of the reasons why.

But as the officers and Wyel stood around shooting the breeze, he continuously exclaimed how wrong that stereotype was. And after a couple good jokes, Wyel shook hands with the officers, and resumed the tango.

So we resumed to our high-speed pursuit of the bikes. In reality, we were taking a call to corner some unruly bikers who had been evading cops by riding into undrivable areas. Nevertheless, it was exciting.

While "staking out" the potential area where the bicyclists were estimated to emerge, Hubbard talked about how he handles the stress of being a peace officer.

The ex-college football player and son in an Irish family of 14 described himself as happy, adept at handling stress -- which he sheds by regular workout sessions and working on his house. It wasn't hard to see that Hubbard really enjoys his job, which he loves mostly because he gets to talk to people and interact in a work environment that is never the same. Of course, the irregular sleep schedules aren't fun, but they're all in a day's work.

So on a "slow Wednesday," I was convinced of the professionalism displayed by Officer Hubbard and his coworkers. The night was an educational experience that I encourage all students to consider trying once.

Maybe next time, I'll even get to go on a true car chase.

Anti-advice columnist’s satire appealing

Oregon Daily Emerald - 08/23/00

The success of the Help Me Harlan! author’s witty retorts to college students has lead to a new book.

No topic is taboo in Harlan Cohen's new book, which is now on the stands. Harlan Cohen grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and studied at Indiana University, receiving a journalism degree. After working as a columnist for the campus paper, the Indiana Daily Student, he spent the summer of 1995 as an intern for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

That summer, he visualized creating a national forum where college students and young adults could share their thoughts and receive laid-back responses full of useful information and humor. Help Me Harlan! was created for the students of IU from Cohen's visualization.

When he met with the editors of the Indiana Daily Student to propose his idea, they wanted sample columns, which he wrote using his own personal problems. They took the bait with the catchy Q&A, and the column began its life in the paper.

Starting off slow, Cohen was forced to write and answer letters to himself to publish in the paper. When he noticed he was actually helping himself, he realized he might be onto something and began writing up his friends lives. Before long, real letters were rolling in, seeking advice on issues ranging from roommates, relationships, sex, loneliness, drinking, drugs and parent issues.

"This whole thing has been a challenge," Cohen said. "I want to keep it consistent, funny. I want people to open up."

Six years later, the column appears in more than 60 daily and college newspapers and can be accessed on the Web at With established success and a plethora of answered letters ­­ currently rolling in at more than 100 a week ­­ to choose from, Cohen is now publishing his first book, due out this month.

"Campus Life Exposed: Advice from the Inside" reads a little like "Chicken Soup for the College Soul" meets Dave Barry. The book is on sale at most major book retailers including Borders and Barnes and Noble.

Chapters include "And the Minivan Pulls Away," "Dating and Hooking Up on Campus: The Most Important Chapter" and "No One Ever Said College Would Suck and Other Random Problems."
Cohen spent three years working on the book, compiling letters from his column and personal stories, as well as the stories from hundreds of college students nationwide.

The issues Cohen addresses are a universal part of college life and the reason his column is being syndicated by TMS Campus, which will soon distribute his words of wisdom and wit to more than 200 daily and college papers and 60 high school publications.

The following excerpt is part of Cohen's introduction to Chapter 2: "My disgusting, angry, irresponsible, alcoholic, pot-smoking roommate."

"Before you get any further into this chapter, I want to remind you that not all roommate situations belong in a chapter on dysfunctional roommates. While the following pages might make it seem like you're destined to live with an angry, oversexed, underachieving, beer-drinking, drug-sniffing, masturbating, inconsiderate, lying, stealing, cheating, psycho roommate, chances are you will end up with none of the above.

"Then again, there is the chance you might. If that's the case, you're actually lucky because this may be the only time in your life that you'll be able to live with a totally insane, alcohol-swilling, beer-drinking, snoring, gas-expelling, feet-stinking roommate. (Then again, if you ever shared a room with a brother who drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney, touched himself, ate lots of roughage and bathed irregularly, this kind of roommate might actually be comforting to you!)"

The success of Cohen's column stems from the fact that it is actually an anti-advice column. He says he feels most advice columns are very "blah" and tries "to make it sarcastic and funny at times but with an underlying theme that we're all part of the same community."

"You don't see it in the brochures that college might actually suck at times," he said.

"Campus Life Exposed" is more than just 250 pages of college-geared Dear Abby. It's an honest insight into the ironies of campus life, complete with all of the struggles and humor that make college such an experience. And with Harlan Cohen's help, you might actually get some good advice.

It's Time To Lift The Smoke Screen From Local Businesses

Oregon Daily Emerald - 07/25/00

In industrial workplaces around the nation, pollutants including toxins and carcinogens are banned ­­ unless they're coming from the end of a lit cigarette.

Smoking should be a cut and dry issue. The hard reality is that tobacco causes or contributes to almost 25 percent of all deaths in Oregon, according to an article written last November by Grant Higgison, a state health officer with the Oregon Health Division. Everyone, with the exception of claims from those who recently won large settlements against the tobacco industry, starts smoking with the knowledge it's unhealthy.

However, that's the benefit of freedom of choice -- smokers have the right to make the decision whether or not to put a "death stick" in their mouth. But do the rest of us?

If the Eugene City Council chooses to put to vote an ordinance which would ban smoking in all businesses of two or more employees, Eugene residents will have that choice. Corvallis passed a "smoke-free business" law in 1998, the same year that the Oregon Health Division kicked off it's tobacco-use reduction program. During the last two years, Oregon tobacco consumption has been reduced by 11 percent, and the number of smokers fell by 6.4 percent, a total of 35,000 smokers.

That's 500 million fewer cigarettes sold each year with a future savings of over $150 million, in Oregon alone. Impressive numbers and a clear indicator that the program and efforts on the part of cities such as Corvallis are working.

As Eugene faces an attack from the anti-tobacco movement, City Council members are turning to Corvallis as an example for what worked and what didn't. Though many agree that the idea of smoke-free businesses is a good one, criticism from bars has some claiming mixed views. Some smokers and bar owners argue that a part of bar tradition is the smoky atmosphere, and that bar patrons can choose not to visit the bar if that's a problem.

How fair is that, considering 66 percent of bar patrons are non-smokers? Don't they deserve the clean air? After all, those with a drink can't exactly "step outside" to get out of the smoke in the way smokers can take a "step outside" to allow the rest of us to breathe uncontaminated air.
Besides the customers, it doesn't give the employees of businesses a choice, especially the bartenders or cocktail servers who are often burned by carelessly held cigarettes, and who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Speaking of second-hand smoke, what about the children in restaurants who are exposed to this health risk? According to the World Health Organization, second-hand smoke seriously damages the health of almost half the world's children. And we're worried about kids washing their hands to prevent germs and illness?

However, old habits die hard. The question of concern is: Will isolating the one-third of bar patrons who do smoke irreparably damage the bar scene as we now know it? According the OHD, no. Sixty-five percent of Corvallis bar customers say they like the bar experience better now than when smoking was allowed. Of course, it doesn't take a genius to realize that those are likely the 65 percent of bar customers who don't smoke. However, food and alcohol sales have not been affected, and nine of 10 customers in the Corvallis area are spending as much or more time in bars as they did before the ordinance went into effect.

The numbers are in and it's about common sense. If the Eugene ban is put into effect, which it should be, we'll look back two years from now and wonder how we ever thought allowing smoking in public places was "no big deal."

*Note: The Eugene Ban went into effect and Eugene has been smoke-free for the past 7 years.

Arrests Exemplify Weekend Unrest

Oregon Daily Emerald - 06/20/00

Several dozens people arrested over the weekend during what organizers called a "Carnival Against Capital" were being released one by one, every hour, from the Lane County Jail late Monday night.

The heavy police presence out in force beginning late last week netted approximately 60 to 70 arrests of anarchists, protesters and apparently people who were just bystanders to the entire scene. Will Winget was one of those arrested at about 9 p.m. Sunday under the Washington-Jefferson Bridge -- site of Sunday afternoon's "historic re-enactment" of the June 18, 1999, protest that turned into a downtown Eugene riot.

"They just walked up to him and said 'We're arresting you for disorderly conduct,'" Winget's friend Walt Hunt said Sunday night. "We were just standing here watching the activity. But about an hour earlier when the state riot people came in they had those long, white batons, and they were pushing everybody back down the street. And they kind of came up behind us. He doesn't move that fast, and they kind of pushed him into a tree.

"What they do is they see you doing something two hours earlier, and then they arrest you at a vulnerable moment," Hunt said.

Terry Schoonmaker was one of the first released from the jail, and that followed the custody referee office's procedure of letting out people with medical problems or no serious prior criminal record first.

Schoonmaker said he was arrested Sunday night at Second Avenue and Adams Street, after police ordered a large group of protesters to leave the county jail vicinity. Schoonmaker said he began walking toward a Quik-Stop Market near Chambers Avenue, when police stopped him and ordered him to take off his backpack. They then informed him that he was being arrested after Schoonmaker refused to give his identity until he was told why he had been stopped.
Upon being released Monday night, Schoonmaker said he was unable to recover some of his belongings, including his shirt, coat and backpack. County jail officials did return his seizure medication, but Schoonmaker walked away from the jail shirtless.

Sunday afternoon's rally was mostly peaceful, with speakers using a bullhorn to address the crowd about their beliefs or sometimes just to rant and yell obscenities. Hundreds of people milled about, either listening to the speeches or talking amongst themselves.

Once a punk band wrapped up its set, a group of about 100 people moved the rally to the Saturday Market area at Eighth Avenue and Oak Street. There they played several games of Red Rover in the middle of the street before police in riot gear ordered them to leave the area.
When the protesters stood their ground, police moved in and began making arrests, firing bean bag rounds at the dispersing groups. The police brigade then began cordoning off streets and pushing the protesters out of the area.

Arrest figures for Sunday night were in the mid-20s, and the most common charges were disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer. A strong number of police -- estimated at 100 to 150 -- swept into the Washington-Jefferson Bridge area on bikes, in vans, in patrol cars and on foot.

One of the neutral observers at Sunday's afternoon rally in the park was told by police officers that he would have to leave the area as they began their Sunday night actions.

"I think the anarchist folks are a little frightening; they're scary to the community," John Buffalo said. "But I think that no matter what they did ... which they didn't really do anything ... Nothing could have brought on this; this is overkill to the max."

The majority of the weekend's arrests came Friday night following a gathering at Prince Lucien Campbell Hall on campus, where approximately 300 punks, anarchists and other citizens attended a video premiere of "Breaking the Spell." The video, made by Eugene resident Tim Lewis, is a compilation of footage from last December's World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.

A large part of the contingent then made its way to the Lane County Jail, where police confronted the crowd and began making arrests. All observers and news media were kept at bay while the arrests were being made.

Included in the total number of arrests were two suspects in a vehicle fire at the Joe Romania car dealership at Franklin Boulevard and Walnut Street.

After police received a 911 call at 1:04 a.m. Friday, they responded and stopped Jeffrey Michael Luers, 21, and Craig Andrew Marshall, 27, who were observed driving in the area. The men were eventually arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief and first-degree arson.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Column : Pick Up a Reading Hobbit

Oregon Daily Emerald - 04/05/01

With the conclusion of finals two weeks ago and 10 homework and class-free days stretching ahead, I decided to indulge myself during spring break. I wasn't flying off to get obnoxiously inebriated in Cancœn, or to backpack through parts of Europe, or even hitting the slopes in Tahoe (which the rest of my family happened to be doing without me). A new job had me anchored to Eugene during the prized week of freedom college students look forward to, but I was eagerly looking forward to catching up with an old friend ... a good book.

When I was a child, books kept me company on the bus ride to school, intrigued me during boring lectures in school (hidden safely in a text book), were my dining companions as I ate breakfast, and suffocated under the covers with me as I read with a flashlight, one ear listening for the approaching footsteps of the parent patrol.

Determined to catch up on old times with my old friend, I enthusiastically set out for Knight Library, armed with a wish list of the books that would claim my free time during the break. A Dean Koontz novel, something by Toni Morrison, and yes, even Nora Roberts. But most of all, I was looking forward to re-reading J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings."

After seeing a trailer for the cinematic release of the trilogy (which I desperately hope beats the disappointment of the return of the "Star Wars" movies), I decided I had to re-read the novels. It's been a decade since I pored over the pages of Tolkien's masterpieces, which hold a special place for me, as my dad read them as a young man and named his first boat after Gandalf, the wise wizard from The Hobbit. My family's first dog was named Brandy after the Brandywine River, one of the landmarks in Bilbo's adventures.

Back at Knight Library, I located the Tolkien area and browsed the shelves, scanning them for the desired titles. And failed miserably. The two copies of "The Hobbit" were checked out and the two shelves containing Tolkien's works included his biography and dozens upon dozens of collections of his notes or scholarly opinions about his writing.

But I didn't want to read why he chose to name the hobbit "Bilbo" instead of "Bozo" or what an Oxford professor thought of Gollum. I wanted to form my own opinions about the story and the characters. And I didn't want to spend beaucoup bucks at Borders for the set, so I took my first trip to the Eugene Public Library.

After I failed miserably at finding my way around the library (sadly enough, I'm practically a college graduate), I enlisted the guidance of the children's section librarian (at the counter marked "HELP!"). She pointed me in the right direction, toward dozens of Tolkien books -- actual works of fiction, not notes -- distributed in both the young adult and children's section.

I was so excited to actually find the books after the fruitless search on campus, I wasn't even fazed by the fact I was hauling an armful of "children's books" -- I think Tolkien can be enjoyed by all ages. As I exited the library, I clutched my new library card almost as fervently as I had my ID on my 21st birthday. After all, both were opening new possibilities for me, though the library card was probably a bit more productive.

As I headed off to the nearest coffee shop to indulge in my new books, I reflected over the irony of the situation. The University wasn't able to provide me with the tools needed to fulfill my literary desire, and our library, which boasts thousands upon thousands of volumes of books, wasn't able to offer some classics to its patrons.

Memorizing the timeline of the French-Indian War or the scholarly opinion on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," while beneficial to our overall general knowledge and education, probably fails to ignite our creative spirit or our imagination. So don't expect to get all of your literary needs fulfilled by the assigned reading from your classes, or even from a list of the greatest American novels.

Instead, head down to the local library and thumb through the dog-eared, well-loved pages of some of your old favorites, or select a random book to dive into. Not only is the check-out time a month, but you won't have to sell your textbooks to be able to pay hefty late fees that (ahem) some academic libraries charge. Nourish your literary needs with some reading you choose.

Column: A New Baby BOOM!

Oregon Daily Emerald - 04/24/01

By six o'clock Easter Sunday, I was in dire need of a nap. My muscles ached, my eyelids felt heavy and my bed seemed like an oasis. What had caused this state of exhaustion? A late night finishing up homework? No. Working a 13-hour shift waiting tables at the restaurant where I'm employed? No. The source of my physical and mental exhaustion was the afternoon spent with my family and, specifically, a small mass of children with a seemingly endless supply of energy.

My 8-year-old brother and four little cousins (ages 6, 7, 8 and 9) bounded from one activity to the other while my older cousins and I supervised and tried to catch up on the progression of our lives since the last family get-together. Overseeing the placement of candy and nickels and dimes into the plastic Easter eggs was a short-lived activity, as the kids' attention spans waned quickly and the giant trampoline beckoned to them.

Outside, I held my breath as the young'uns bounced crazily, and I hoped none of the flying little bodies would collide or fly right off the trampoline. Their jumping soon turned into a game of dog pile, and it seemed time for me to interrupt before someone got hurt. Of course, my presence on the trampoline failed miserably in terminating the game; instead, I turned into the subject of the dog pile. Pinned underneath five little kids, all laughing and pinching me, I seriously wondered how I was going to make it through the Easter-egg hunt with both eyes open.

Somehow I survived, and after my nap, I reflected on the day, wondering how parents find the energy to raise young children. I find that my own life takes all my energy, and I still never seem to have the time I would like to do everything I need. Put a few toddlers into the equation, and it spells mass insanity to me. Not to say that I don't love kids and plan on having a few (in about a decade), but how do young people cope with having children?

When I graduated from high school, roughly 20 girls out of my graduating class of 200 had kids -- yes, at 17 or 18 years of age, I think they are still girls. Our school had its own day care center just for the children of students. Needless to say, the term "kids having kids" seemed to fit. These young adults, few even old enough to vote, were responsible for the life of another human being when most of them still relied upon their own parents. Most couldn't legally buy a cigar to smoke in celebration of their child's birth.

When discussing the subject with several friends, the tales I heard were even more disturbing. One friend knew a 31-year-old woman with a two-year-old granddaughter! Apparently, the "grandmother" had a daughter at age 14 or 15, and in turn, her daughter had a child at the same age. I don't buy the excuse that kids are more mature these days -- if they were, they would know better than to have unprotected sex before they are old enough to drive with a learner's permit.

Another friend of mine has a niece, a 20-year-old girl, pregnant with her fifth child! Yes, at 20, she already has four kids, ages 4, 3, 2 and 1. To my understanding, she isn't trying to break the world record for childbearing (currently held by a woman with 65 children), but practices a religion which forbids the use of birth control. I guess that the idea that premarital sex is also forbidden was forgotten.

Don't misinterpret my puzzling to be a message for abortion or adoption, because it's not. I'm asking a question. Why are these children (now parents) forfeiting their childhood and young adulthood?

Where have we, as a society, gone wrong when a young mother is raising a Brady Bunch-sized family before she can legally buy the ingredients to make beer-battered fish and French fries? Shouldn't these teenagers learn to balance a checkbook and practice time management between school, a part-time job and a social life before they juggle day care and feeding schedules?

According to statistics from Planned Parenthood, 10 percent of girls age 15-19 in the United States are having kids, the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world. Why? Maybe we're concentrating a little too much on telling teenagers not to have sex, not to have sex, not to have sex. It's pretty repetitious and obviously ineffective. Instead, we need to concentrate on promoting responsible sex.

After all, organizations such as the Student Health Center and Planned Parenthood don't distribute condoms just for freshman boys to blow up and pin to the walls of their residence halls.
Editor's note: As trampoline Professor Lani Loken-Dahle would attest, for no reason should there ever be more than one person on a trampoline, as this may result in severe injury or death.

Column : Rage Against The Sports Machine

Oregon Daily Emerald : 01/10/02

Like it or not, football seems to be a big part of college life. Eugene residents and University students can't escape hearing the latest about the Autzen Stadium expansion or donations from Nike CEO Phil Knight. And it's no different at many other schools, especially those vying for a national sports ranking.

Fiesta Bowl news ran throughout the break. But behind the glory of the Heisman Trophy competition, the controversy of the Bowl Championship Series rankings and tales of extraordinary road trips to the big game, a darker tale goes almost unnoticed, and so far, unpunished.

On Dec. 7, more than three weeks before the big game, a Colorado University student alleged she was gang raped while attending a party thrown for football recruits, according to Associated Press reports. The party reportedly consisted of approximately 15 high school recruits and a half-dozen Colorado University football players, all of whom were drinking heavily.

You'd expect to hear that the police are investigating and that there have been repercussions against the aggressors, but the police weren't called. Instead, campus police are handling the investigation, despite the fact the crime happened off campus. And surprise, surprise, no players were suspended from the Fiesta Bowl for the incident, and no arrests have been made even now, as investigations are "ongoing."

Few newspapers ran the article, and those who did used the same AP story. No one has questioned the fact that the underage recruits were allegedly drinking with their CU football hosts. The athletic department spent more than $5,000 in food, rental cars and entertainment ­­ not counting hotel or airfare ­­ to host the 15 recruits for three days, according to a Boulder, Col., newspaper.

The athletic department and the football team hosts used this wining and dining to show the recruits what could "be theirs" if they became college athletes. Did this display reach beyond food and liquor and constant attention to encompass women -- willing or unwilling?

Gang rape is not a new phenomenon, but today, it's exclusive groups that are committing these violent crimes. The highest number of gang rapes is committed by fraternity groups, followed closely in number by athletic teams, according to a study by psychologist Chris O'Sullivan, Ph.D., of Buckness University. Of athletes, it's football, basketball and hockey teams who are most prone to rape, according to a study by Bernice Sandler of the Association of American Colleges.

As these groups complain that they are the victims of unfair stereotyping involving rape, the statistics continue to support the facts. The origin of this violence is men who have developed a subculture based upon privilege and aggression, often leading to the scapegoating of women.

It's horrifying that the combination of elitism and power among men somehow produces a mentality that allows these crimes to happen in the first place. It's even scarier that most of the athletes accused escape with little more than a slap on the wrist, despite the growing awareness of the phenomenon. I'm angry that athletics really isn't the problem here, but a culture that elevates athletes to a demigod status, where any behavior is permissible.