March 16, 2014 Comments Off on The Problem of Campus Sexual Assault
The Problem of Campus Sexual Assault
March 14, 2014 by Alison Kahler
“When young women get to college, nearly 20% of them will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault, as will about 6% of undergraduate men.”
“the vast majority of (campus) rapes are committed by serial, violent predators”
Recently, a friend and fellow University of Chicago alumna showed me an open letter to university president Robert Zimmer demanding that the university reevaluate its policy regarding campus sexual assaults. After reporting an assault by her then-partner and being illegally offered a mediation session by Dean of Students Susan Art, current fourth-year student Olivia Ortiz filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), prompting a larger investigation of the university for possible violations of Title IX. In response, a coalition of alumni wrote and circulated the letter in question. I gladly added my name.
Though I am heartbroken to read about my beloved alma mater’s betrayal of sexual assault victims, I am not surprised. Campus sexual assaults are chillingly common, according to the Department of Education’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence Background, Summary, and Fast Facts (found on Marsh Law Firm’s roundup of Title IX resources):
When young women get to college, nearly 20% of them will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault, as will about 6% of undergraduate men.
And yet—despite this reminder of the prevalence of this problem and their responsibilities—when confronted with an incident, colleges all over the country exhibit a pattern of dismissing and covering up sexual assaults….
perpetrators know they can get away with their largely under-reported crimes, and they do so often; according to a report by psychologist David Lisak:
[College rapists] tend to be serial offenders, and most of them commit a variety of different interpersonal offenses. They are accurately and appropriately labeled as predators.
This picture conflicts sharply with the widely-held view that rapes committed on university campuses are typically the result of a basically “decent” young man who, were it not for too much alcohol and too little communication, would never do such a thing. While some campus rapes do fit this more benign view, the evidence points to a far less benign reality, in which the vast majority of rapes are committed by serial, violent predators….