Ohio Governor John Kasich at a town hall in Watertown, NY.
Ohio Governor John Kasich at a town hall in Watertown, NY.

During a town hall in Watertown, NY today Ohio Governor John Kasich was asked by a young woman who identified herself as a freshman at St. Lawrence University what Kasich “as President is going to do to make (her) feel more safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment and rape?”

Kasich responded:

In our state, we think that when you enroll you ought to absolutely know that if something happens to you along the lines of sexual harassment or whatever, you have a place to go where there is a confidential reporting, where there is ability for you to access a rape kit, where that is kept confidential, but it gives you the opportunity to be able to pursue justice after you have had some time to reflect on it all. We need, we are in a process to make sure that all higher education in our state, and this ought to be done in the country, that our coeds know exactly what the rules are, what the opportunities are, what the confidential policies are, so that you are not vulnerable, at risk, and can be preyed upon.

I have two 16-year-old daughters, and I don’t even like to think about it…. I would also give you one bit of advice. Don’t go to parties where there is a lot of alcohol, don’t do that.

Predictably Kasich is getting hammered by Democrats over this.

“While President Obama and Vice President Biden are leading the way to help stop the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses across the country, Republican presidential candidates like John Kasich and Donald Trump are insulting women everyday on the campaign trail by blaming victims of sexual and domestic violence,” DNC spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in a statement. “It is no wonder women are turning away from the Republican field in huge numbers. Our country deserves a president who will stand with them, not put the blame on them.”

Look, there is a lot I can criticize Kasich for – his support of Common Core, his unwillingness to protect religious conscience, and his Medicaid expansion comes to mind.

This is not one of those times. First, it’s not the President’s job to help female college students to feel safe and secure on their campuses, it’s just not. Not every problem requires a federal solution. Actually I think there is very little beyond a bully pulpit that a President can do on this issue (that would be constitutional anyway). So the premise in the question is problematic.

Secondly, Kasich was not “blaming” the victim, he would give the same advice I’d give my two daughters – don’t go to parties where there is a lot of alcohol… I would actually amend that to say don’t go to parties where alcohol is being served period (I would also say that to my son).

Feeling safe and secure is far different that actually being safe and secure. The president can’t keep our daughters safe on campus. Our daughters, however, can be empowered to make choices that mitigates the risk tremendously.

Educating college students, especially male students, is well and good and should happen. Schools should have strict policies when it comes to dealing with perpetrators of sexual assault, and they should be fully cooperative working with local law enforcement. What Kasich is doing in Ohio is good.

Most of that, however, is responding to an assault or rape after the fact. How do female students keep themselves safe? Ultimately they have the greatest ability to protect themselves.  They can make the decision to avoid situations where they are more at risk.  Does this stink they have to do this? Yes. Is it fair? No. Life isn’t fair, and we live in a fallen and broken world where this is necessary.

A lot, if not most, of sexual assaults on campus are alcohol-related (whether it is the perpetrator or the victim drinking), that’s pretty widely known. No one makes good decisions when they are inebriated. Senses are dulled, red flags are missed, and people are more vulnerable, as well as, make decisions that make them more vulnerable. Does this mean a drunk college student is to blame if she is raped? Absolutely not, and those who perpetrated that assault should be held accountable. Colleges haven’t always been helpful in that regard, and they should. Even so, getting justice doesn’t not take away the fact a female college student was victimized.

It’s not politically correct to say, but here it is. She is safer if she is sober than if she is not, and she is safer if she’s not around inebriated men than if she is not.  There’s nothing good that comes from binge drinking.

This shouldn’t be controversial. It’s common sense.

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