'Not Safe With Nikki Glaser' Calls Out Colleges Prioritizing Sports Over Rape

The Comedy Central show introduces a new mascot for schools with their heads in the sand about campus sexual assault.
Alex Gallardo / Reuters

Comedy Central’s “Not Safe with Nikki Glaser” will take on a much more serious subject than usual for Tuesday night’s show: sexual assault on college campuses.

Host Nikki Glaser told The Huffington Post the subject is a “giant leap” for the program, but the whole point of “Not Safe” is to discuss things that people are typically shy about. “Not Safe” features comedians talking about sex, fetishes, fantasies and dating.

In American culture, women cannot openly talk about their sex lives without getting “branded as sluts,” Glaser said, and that feeds a culture that discourages rape victims from coming forward.

“Us being so uptight about sex does have an effect on rape survivors and it makes it harder to talk about what happened,” she said.

Tuesday’s episode includes an interview with Brenda Tracy, a woman who was gang raped in 1998 at an off-campus Oregon State University party. Prosecutors misled her on the viability of her case, causing her to decide against pursuing criminal charges against four male football players involved.

Tracy’s allegations barely interrupted the men’s football careers. The two who played for OSU got one-game suspensions. The other two, who didn’t attend OSU, weren’t punished.

Glaser points to Tracy’s case as an example of colleges mishandling allegations of rape against athletes. There is no shortage of those in recent years, like at the University of Oregon, the University of Tennessee, Florida State University and Baylor University.

“It’s scary how far these schools will go to protect their sports programs,” Glaser says in the segment.

The show’s staff had a lot of interest in addressing sexual violence on college campuses, Glaser said. Recent outcry over the lenient jail sentence for Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on Stanford University’s campus, heightened the push for a segment.

Glaser said she had a family member who didn’t talk for years about being raped in college. The college told that family member she would have to be placed on academic probation in order to press charges against the assailant, Glaser said.

“She never did anything about it,” Glaser said. “Obviously that story has stayed with me for years.”

The show cites research showing that 54 percent of athletes at one university admit they “engaged in sexually coercive behaviors ― almost all of which met the legal definition of rape.”

Given that statistic, Glaser asks Tracy: “What can a girl do to not get raped?”

“Not be any place where a rapist is,” Tracy responds. She emphasizes that stopping sexual assault is really a men’s issue, since the vast majority are committed by white males.

Glaser said she was particularly struck by Tracy’s comment that the officials involved in her case at Oregon State University and the criminal justice system “victimized” her.

“You can rationalize a rapist ― that’s what they do. They rape, they commit crimes, they hurt people,” Tracy says on the show. “How do you rationalize good people turning their back on you? How do you rationalize a system that’s built to protect you that doesn’t?”

“Hearing her explain how she felt when she was ignored, I felt the anger for her,” Glaser said.

Comedy Central

Glaser calls on her audience to sign a petition started by Tracy’s son, asking the NCAA to ban athletes who commit violent offenses like rape and domestic abuse.

“Don’t be an ostrich ― get your heads out of the sand and do something,” says Katie Nolan, a sports broadcaster making a guest appearance on Tuesday’s episode.

Then the show introduces “Shooshy,” an ostrich with its head in the sand designed by the “Not Safe” staff as a mascot for colleges that don’t get serious about addressing sexual assault on campus.

Not Safe With Nikki Glaser” airs on Comedy Central on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. EST.


Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter, focusing on higher education and sexual violence, and is based in New York. You can reach him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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