Are white men treated less harshly than men of color when it comes to sexual assault?

White men, you won’t be surprised to hear, generally have it pretty easy in this garbage world. In addition to countless other perks that come with their whiteness and maleness, being a white dude usually means the ability to get away with a lot. As the national conversation surrounding rape reaches an all-time high, it’s worth asking if white men get off easy for sexual assault allegations. You can probably guess the answer.

Former University of California, Berkeley law school dean Sujit Choudhry filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Thursday claiming the college treats white male professors accused of sexual harassment or assault more leniently than he and other professors of color were treated. Choudhry was accused of sexual harassment by his executive assistant and resigned from his position after a school investigation determined he violated school policy and the faculty wanted him out. The ex-dean remained on the faculty and returned to campus this month to work but not teach, and claims in his lawsuit that harsh criticism of how the university handled the case led it to open a second investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct, threatening to ban him from the campus entirely and revoke his tenure.

Choudhry’s case doesn’t immediately come off as racial discrimination, as he was initially let off fairly lightly by the university: they only reduced his salary by 10 percent for one year after admitting to touching his assistant while still denying some details of her allegations against him. However, the case of a white faculty member in a similar position does offer a direct comparison.

Well-known astronomy professor, Nobel Prize contender, and notable white dude Geoff Marcy was accused of sexually harassing four former students at UC Berkeley in July 2014. Similarly, he admitted to parts of the accusation and denied other parts. The school’s investigation found that he violated its sexual-misconduct policy multiple times, and he was placed on a five-year probation and told he would be suspended for a semester if he failed to meet “behavioral expectations” (i.e., not sexually harassing students). Marcy eventually stepped down after the details of his case emerged and a group of faculty members in the astronomy department called for his removal, but the university itself didn’t push him out and he wasn’t threatened with losing his tenure as Choudhry claims he was.

The same connection was drawn between Brock Turner and Brian Banks. Turner, a former Stanford swimmer and name you’re probably familiar with, was sentenced to six months and served only three for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Banks, on the other hand, a promising black football player, was convicted of rape at the age of 16 and served five years in prison before his accuser admitted that he hadn’t raped her and he was released.

Corey Batey, a black former Vanderbilt University student, provides another stark contrast to Turner. Batey was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping an unconscious woman in July, and though he was convicted of aggravated rape while Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault, the 14 and a half-year difference in their sentences doesn’t properly reflect that difference.

Even before being sentenced, Turner was constantly referred to as the “Stanford swimmer” instead of an accused rapist and a nice, posed yearbook photo of him was used in every media story until his mugshot was finally released after he was sentenced. When accused of the same sexual assault crimes, men of color are typically portrayed by their mugshot — or the least flattering, most sinister-looking photo available — immediately, which intrinsically implies guilt.

Men of color have been portrayed as violent sexual predators since the colonial days, when that narrative justified criminalizing or killing them. However, statistics from RAINN, the largest national anti-sexual violence organization, show that white men actually commit 57 percent of sexual assaults, while black men commit 27 percent. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) also confirms that 6 out of 10 people arrested or convicted for sexual assault are white, with a report saying sex offenders are “more likely to be white than other violent offenders.” It’s important to note that while the BJS statistic denotes that white men are arrested or convicted for these crimes more often, that doesn’t mean they receive the same punishments or are treated the same as men of color accused of the same crimes. Turner, Banks, and Batey were all arrested and convicted, but received vastly different prison sentences.

Obviously, men of color should be investigated for sexual assault when evidence suggests they’re guilty, and Choudhry deserves to lose his job at UC Berkeley if he continuously sexually harassed his assistant. The issue here is that white men, who disproportionately commit the sexual offenses reported to police, aren’t being adequately punished or held accountable for their actions. Universities should absolutely be doling out harsher punishments for faculty who sexually harass or assault anyone — and if that’s what UC Berkeley is doing, great — but the harsher punishments have to affect all offenders, not just those of color.