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The Joke's on Us

The voice of experience speaks to CU.

None of that is a joke, either.

And how, Porter asked Gray, had the situation leading to the scandal been allowed to occur at the academy? "In any large organization, there are a multitude of processes," Gray responded. "If not knitted together properly, there's a disconnect."

And then the women at the academy, at CU, fell through the cracks.

But, wondered commission co-chair Peggy Lamm, could the academy's method of fixing those systems work at a school like CU?

The academy has to play by the same NCAA rulebook, Gray noted -- even if the academy is a military institution, a "hierarchical, bureaucratic model..." While CU could be an "organized anarchy model," offered Lieutenant Colonel Chris Luedtke, who'd accompanied Gray. But that's "a legitimate model, too."

No joke. (But also not much organization to that anarchy.)

To turn things around in Colorado Springs, Gray explained, the academy needed to "integrate our vision of leadership -- and not just leadership development, but development for people seventeen to 21 years old." They had to decide what information was appropriate for students in which years. They brought in a standup comedian to offer an interactive presentation for sophomores on the importance of language in culture. On October 6, the academy held a full day of training for 250 seniors and many officers, training them in victim psychology, in perp behavior. "As an institution," she said, "we were in denial as to the magnitude of the issue."

Not anymore. Gray rolled off the stats: Nine out of ten victims of sex assault don't want to come forward, and it usually takes them five to six months to decide to do so. "One in four women, one in eight-to-ten men, will have been sexually assaulted before they come to our institution." And if you advise them against putting themselves in "at-risk situations," she continued, "many will take it that you're blaming them."

No joke, Taco.

The commission's work is only one of the CU investigations now under way. Attorney General Ken Salazar is still conducting his probe. CU president Betsy Hoffman appointed an athletic-department liaison to look into the situation and also authorized a second, legal investigation. She plans to appoint yet another task force to study how university officials handle sexual-assault allegations.

A case-by-case report on the fifty sexual-assault claims collected after the Air Force Academy story first broke is due in June -- right about the time President George Bush is scheduled to preside over graduation ceremonies.

But in the meantime, the academy is continuing its bureaucratic, hierarchical fix. This past Saturday, it held a three-hour event called "Moving Mountains to End Sexual Assault," with mandatory attendance by juniors and seniors -- "sometimes we just know what's good for them," Gray said -- and voluntary attendance by thousands more from the academy, the community. "We need your strength," speaker Jackson Katz told the cadets. "We need your leadership both here and all over the world." Especially in Colorado, sex-assault capital.

Because have you heard the one about how, despite the changes at the Air Force Academy over the past year, over twenty freshman admitted to cheating on a test last month, in violation of the honor code?

Or the one about how since Gray arrived in Colorado Springs, there have been 21 reports of sexual assaults by cadets -- four in the past month alone?

No joke.

You may already know the punchline, but that doesn't mean you get the last laugh.

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