Why Some Schools Should Celebrate Being at the Top of Reported Campus Rape Lists

It means the violence is actually being talked about.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Aug. 1, 2014, 1 a.m.

In a re­cent Wash­ing­ton Post story, Grin­nell Col­lege Pres­id­ent Raynard S. King­ton was quoted mak­ing a rather un­com­fort­able ad­mis­sion: Re­ports of cam­pus rape re­cently shot up in his small Iowa col­lege — and he was happy about it.

“If any­thing, this is evid­ence we are do­ing a bet­ter job, cre­at­ing a sup­port­ive en­vir­on­ment, where more people feel more com­fort­able re­port­ing,” King­ton said of his school’s high num­ber of re­por­ted sexu­al as­saults. Grin­nell had re­cently launched a cam­paign edu­cat­ing its stu­dent body on the im­port­ance of re­port­ing rape, he ex­plained, and any chance the high­er num­bers would make the school look bad was eas­ily out­weighed by the be­ne­fits of a pro-re­port­ing cam­pus cul­ture.

Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill is hop­ing to al­le­vi­ate mis­per­cep­tions stem­ming from these stat­ist­ics in her new le­gis­la­tion to battle sexu­al as­sault on cam­pus. The bill, an­nounced Wed­nes­day by a bi­par­tis­an group of law­makers, would re­quire every U.S. col­lege to be sur­veyed about its sexu­al vi­ol­ence, cre­at­ing what Mc­Caskill has dubbed an “apples-to-apples ap­proach.” It would also re­quire cam­puses to have a uni­form pro­cess for dis­cip­lin­ary pro­ceed­ings and co­ordin­ate with loc­al law en­force­ment agen­cies to dis­cuss re­spons­ib­il­it­ies and share in­form­a­tion.

“To curb these crimes, stu­dents need to be pro­tec­ted and em­powered, and in­sti­tu­tions must provide the highest level of re­spons­ive­ness in help­ing hold per­pet­rat­ors fully ac­count­able,” Mc­Caskill said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day. “That’s what our le­gis­la­tion aims to ac­com­plish.”

Grin­nell was just one of a hand­ful of pres­ti­gi­ous lib­er­al arts schools to re­port high num­bers of of­fenses in rank­ings re­cently com­piled by The Post. After the rank­ings ran, some of the schools lis­ted re­ceived a spate of un­flat­ter­ing cov­er­age. An art­icle in Ore­gon’s The Re­gister-Guard, for in­stance, came out at­tack­ing Reed Col­lege, long known as a bas­tion for peace­ful hip­pies, for its high num­ber of re­por­ted in­cid­ents, which topped re­por­ted of­fenses at every oth­er high­er edu­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion in the state.

“No one is happy with the num­bers,” Reed spokes­man Kev­in My­ers told the pa­per at the time, “but people are happy that vic­tims are com­ing for­ward. The goal is to re­duce and pre­vent sexu­al as­sault from hap­pen­ing on the cam­pus, but an­oth­er goal is to re­spond in the most ef­fect­ive way.”

In­deed, Mc­Caskill has sug­ges­ted that high rates of re­por­ted as­saults do not ne­ces­sar­ily re­flect badly on schools. What should be much more wor­ri­some, she pos­its, are schools with no re­por­ted of­fenses at all.

“We’ve got to ex­plain to the pub­lic that they should not hold a uni­versity re­spons­ible for some fail­ure if the num­ber of sexu­al as­sault re­ports go up,” she told the Post fol­low­ing the pub­lic­a­tion of their rank­ings. In short: If a school has zero of­fenses, it could well mean the in­sti­tu­tion isn’t do­ing enough to en­cour­age stu­dents to speak out.

The con­cerns echoed those of Jen­nifer Freyd, a psy­cho­logy pro­fess­or at the Uni­versity of Ore­gon, who re­cently wrote a column con­demning the way the rank­ings have been used. “Each col­lege and uni­versity now has a choice: Nervously guard its repu­ta­tion at the pro­found ex­pense of stu­dent well-be­ing,” she wrote, “or cour­ageously in­vest in stu­dent safety, health and edu­ca­tion.”

Mc­Caskill’s le­gis­la­tion, which could be heard on the Sen­ate floor as early as Septem­ber, would make it so schools don’t have to choose.

What We're Following See More »
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
20 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
×