Campus Rape Reporting

After yesterday’s Dexter Yarbrough posts, a discussion ensued at Feministing and here about campus rape reporting.
Now, there are a lot of reasons that college is not a universal experience: the university experience is much more prevalent among the affluent, denizens of G-10 countries, white folks, etc. It is an over-discussed and over-analyzed set of experiences. But in discussing sexual assault, the university experience is one of several that throw a high concentration of young adults together in the presence of stress and alcohol — the military, in nations where women serve in large numbers, is another. So it’s worth talking about for that reason alone.
For a few years now I’ve wondered how many women are pressured into silence. I’ve heard stories anecdotally, and I feel like there’s a lot more under the surface.
One thing that stands out to me is that American universities have a motive to suppress women’s stories. They are subject to the Clery Act, which requires that they report the number of violent crimes, including rape, on campus. I can’t prove it, but my gut tells me that the Clery Act is, as lawyers sometimes say, “honored in the breach,” that underreporting is systematic and routine. It’s not as if nobody pays attention to it: Security On Campus seems to deal almost exclusively with Clery Act compliance. But the fine for failure to report is only $27,500, so the penalties for nonreporting are not stiff enough to deter, in my view, a school from trying to dissuade survivors from reporting. And the numbers just seem so low. To unfairly single out a school, at Penn State’s University Park campus, the Clery Act reports show an average of about 8 forcible rapes, and not a single non-forcible sexual assault, for 2005/6/7. Does anybody believe that’s the number of rapes on campus there? That that’s the number reported to rape crisis services? Obviously, it’s artificially low, reflecting massive underreporting. And I’m not trying to single out Penn State here, I just needed an example.
I don’t believe any rape survivor owes it to anyone else to report. Some of the underreporting has to do with cultural forces far beyond the University. But given universities’ reporting obligation, I wonder if women are encountering patterns and practices that dissuade them from making complaints to campus police.
What are your experiences? Anybody know anything?

Join the Conversation

  • alixana

    I graduated from Bowling Green State University several years ago, and I remember discussions about rape accusations being handled by the administration rather than the campus police because of the reporting requirements. I can’t remember why the administration would have been alerted about the accusations before the police were, or what sort of pressure they put on the victim to not report it, but I seem to remember someone dropping an accusation because the administration would have required a meeting with the victim and the accused and she didn’t want to go through with it.
    As a caveat, I cannot say for sure the discussions were about my school specifically, or if I was talking to friends from another school. As you can tell from my vague-ish language, these are fuzzy memories and I don’t want to blast my university for something that it didn’t do – but I want to put the information out there should anyone want to pick up the thread and investigate university practices. As fuzzy as they are, they stick with me because they’re disturbing, and this blog post does not surprise me in the least bit.

  • uberhausfrau

    if i recall, my college (augustana in rock island, IL) handled a lot of crimes, including rape, internally to get around reporting them in their statistics.

  • Liv_S

    I had never considered the Cleary Act to be a possible culprit, but that makes a lot of sense. My university also seems to try the internal stuff-and of course the consequences even if the perpetrator is “found guilty” hardly seem more than a slap on the wrist.
    The Rape Prevention Education Program here for years has tried to get the administration to make rape prevention education a mandatory thing

  • Mni100

    I was a grad student at Penn State and worked in the Center for Women Students there. I currently do sexual violence prevention work at another university. The reasons for underreporting on campus are easy to guess, but difficult to address. There’s fear of retaliation from a perpetrator or his friends, too many others finding out within a group of friends or on a small campus, unfair student conduct policies, not believing that what happened to you is a crime therefore finding expulsion to be too great a consequence for the perpetrator, etc. Advocates are working to improve these conditions and obviously hear more stories than the Clery numbers show.

  • Thomas

    BTW, this is cross-posted at the Yes Means Yes Blog

  • Kiboko

    I too am vague on details – but when I was in grad school at Wake Forest University a few years back, there were several cases discussed in the school paper regarding dropped cases because the females involved did not want to face their rapist in student court (which is what I believed it was at least partially handled? Sorry I dont’ remember more clearly) and were also afraid of being ostracized since it is a fairly small campus.
    I also was privy to a situation in my own department where a more than one female student was harrassed by a fellow grad student, and/or a faculty member & her PhD candidacy was threatened if she reported.

  • Kiboko

    Sorry that my last paragraph strays a bit from the topic.

  • MoonPie

    I’ll share my personal experience anecdotally, because I believe it may reflect a common experience among many college-age women:
    Succinctly put, I entered college woefully underinformed about acquaintance rape and assault, and unprepared for how to deal with sexual aggression among my new peers and acquaintances.
    To the extent my conservative, religious grade school education and upbringing educated me about rape at all – which is to say, “someone in a mask might jump out of the bushes and rape you, so don’t walk down any alleys or go anywhere at night, and don’t wear short skirts or you’re a slut who’s asking for it” – it omitted acquaintance rape (or “date” rape) almost completely, as well as any kind of nonviolent rape scenario. Moreover, I was acculturated to believe that anything I wore, drank, did, or said other than “NO!” made me complicit in my assault, or at least lifted blame from the abuser, who would simply have been “in an ambiguous situation.”
    As most new college students do, I spent my first year experimenting with my new freedom: meeting new people, making friends, making out, drinking socially, adjusting to cohabiting, etc. During that year I was sexually assaulted twice – once by a hallmate who followed me to my room after a party and climbed on top of me in my bed, and once by a classmate I had invited over for lunch between class sessions, who exposed himself and ejaculated on me.
    I did not report either of these incidents, for several reasons: 1) At the time, I believed myself to be complicit in the assault because I had been either flirting, drinking, kissing, or had invited someone into my bedroom. 2) I didn’t know anything about campus reporting, and assumed that the only reason for filing a report would be to incriminate the offender. Since I felt partially responsible for what had happened, I wasn’t sure that either offender merited incrimination, and I didn’t want to publicly humiliate myself if whomever I reported to concurred. 3) I was also trying to belong to the same communities my offenders belonged to, and didn’t want to risk alienation if gossip circulated or my offenders were simply reprimanded by the University.
    The final reason is that I had been a rape victim (though I didn’t understand it that way at the time) in high school, under similarly “ambiguous” (meaning, no violence was involved and I didn’t say the word “no”) circumstances in which a teacher had sex with me while I was too frightened and unempowered to react. On a certain level, I believe this experience left me feeling dirty, and as though I deserved anything else that happened.
    This was all before I discovered feminism, which was my path to healing and empowerment. But anyway, I never felt pressure from the University about reporting abuse, in either direction; I’m not sure the administration ever communicated with me about it at all. I do hold them accountable for that – since statistically, so many women (and men) are raped and sexually assaulted during their college years, colleges and universities should make it a point to educate students, as part of their orientation, about what to in those situations and how/why to report it afterward.

  • Thomas

    MoonPie, thank you for sharing your experiences, and because it can never be said too much, it was not your fault. You did not do anything wrong.

  • theotherf-word

    I think there might be some confusion among college students regarding what it means to submit a report under the Clery Act. At the large northeastern research university I attend and where I am also a RA (so I have received some formal training regarding crime reporting including that of sexual assault), the victim of a crime can agree to have a Clery report filed without agreeing to a full investigation on the part of the university. Maybe this is not the policy elsewhere, but I think the issue of under-reporting could be ameliorated if students were more informed about the Clery Act.
    I hope this doesn’t come across as blaming victims of violence for the issue of under-reporting. I am personally conflicted about this because on the one hand, having more information from filed Clery reports can be used to diminish the incidence of crime on college campuses, for example by alerting law enforcement officials to a cluster of assaults around a certain building all perpetrated by an individual matching several descriptions. But on the other hand, recounting the details of an assault can be very traumatic, and compelling a victim of a violent crime to file a report certainly seems like a violation of her or his rights.

  • saintcatherine

    I am grateful to you for being willing to write about that. Many women have probably had a similar experience of feeling complicit in their own violation, particularly in college when sexual experimentation is only beginning for some. I know that was true for me.
    I feel quite certain that the number reported to the college is not even the number given official reporting. Although I went to an administrator (for some reason, this was the “reporting protocol”) I did not end up pressing charges. The reasons are varied, similar to some of your, Moon Pie, and also included the fact that I wanted the assault to stop being a part of my life. Going to a hearing before the Student Judiciary Board seemed like a way to prolong my suffering.
    I am guessing that my report, despite the humiliation of the ER trip and the follow-up conversations with an SJB member, did not get reported. The official number for that year was something like 1.

  • saintcatherine

    Sorry, this was in response to MoonPie.

  • snapdragon

    The beurocratic machine at Columbia University is supposed to be very supportive of victims, but, being what it is, can hamper reporting by delaying the process. By that, I mean inaction between semesters that causes frustration for the reporter (who may not pick it back up when school starts again), timing out because the offender graduated, or the supporting office having too many cases for their (usually small, overworked) staff to handle at that particular time. With coursework and exams to think about, the outcome of reporting quickly turns into a big hassle for the student.
    Personally, I think the university’s policy of allowing the offender to hire a professional lawyer for a disciplinary hearing is unfair. The complainant can choose to have the accused disciplined in a less severe way than by pursuing arrest and court time, but then get broadsided when a professional is brought in.

  • MASHBengal

    After reading some of these posts, does anyone else but me think it is unfair that the school is the one who decides how such claims are handled rather than the police? And at least by context of someone’s post that the school is the one who does the hearing and decides if it is criminal or not or worthy of being taken to the police? I find that disturbing just to keep up appearences.

  • nilbog

    Off topic, but I went to BGSU too!

  • sebaceousdrazzle

    I know that at the college I go to, people got called out by other faculty for sweeping certain cases(like valuable athletes and sons of people that had donated money) under the rug. One person was pressured to leave her position because she was fighting against it so hard, and I was afraid that nothing would be done, but there was such a big uproar when that(very well liked and respected) faculty member left that there was a huge shift of power when it came to that branch of the college and a lot of people were fired.

  • enara

    I know specific instances where women have gone to the administration to attempt to report sexual assault and were, shall we say, strongly discouraged from doing so by the officials involved once it became clear that the perpetrator was an athlete. From what I understand from friends at such schools, sexual assault by athletes and the administration’s silencing of reports of such sexual assaults is very common in schools with a focus on athletics, especially those in the south.

  • kirsche

    At least at my university, if an assault didn’t explicitly take place “on campus” (e.g., if at a residence or bar or whatever directly across the street from the official “end of campus”), it wouldn’t count for statistical record-keeping purposes. Even if this involved university students. I think this is a pretty effective way to underreport these incidences, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case elsewhere, too.

  • rileystclair

    although the product of a totally secular, liberal upbringing, my experience, both in high school and in college, is very similar. all your reasons for not reporting sexual assault were the same ones i had.
    my undergraduate university, a large state school in the south, did have some mandatory dorm activities relating to date/acquaintance rape, but at such a renowned “party” school, the message always ended up being a bunch of scary statistics and “girls, don’t get drunk!” i think that the administration was trying to do everything it could to reduce the amount of binge-drinking and didn’t really deal with the intersection of alcohol and sexual assault very well (i.e., odds are the RAPIST has been drinking–hows about we put some responsibility on the dudes?) i don’t think that i was at a place where i could report what happened to me, for the variety of reasons that moonpie listed, but it would have been nice to know how to go about doing it, what it would consist of and what the result could be.

  • LucyBell

    A small private, Catholic-affiliated college in the Northeast where I used to teach sent out emails to the whole campus whenever a sexual assault was reported. Note, that the Clery Act requires keeping track of an reporting of all “violent” crimes, including robbery, break-ins, etc. But at this school ONLY the sexual assault reports were sent out via email and included VERY identifiable data, such as which building, which floor, what time of day the assault occurred, and age/gender/ethnicity of the victim and offender. This was a very small campus. When I asked one of my gender studies classes how they felt about these emails, the response was overwhelming that they are ridiculous, and the only reason someone would ever report is because 1) they didn’t know an entire campus wide email would go out or 2) they were injured seriously enough to also contact city police and use the ER. So yes, under-reporting is an issues, but you are also correct that no one who has been assaulted owes it to anyone to report. Especially when no assurances of privacy can be upheld.
    As a side note, I was able to help a group of students get organized and petition the administration to 1)send emails about ALL crimes reported and 2) include no data on where/when/who for sexual assault reports.

  • Lilly

    I was put off by this article’s assumption that universities are grossly underreporting the number of rapes, and that they are actively supressing cases. I don’t really have any experience, so I decided to investigate a university chosen at Pseudo random. I chose Virginia Tech.
    The clery report was one or two clicks away from the main police page, which seems very accessible. Here it is:
    I found that their web page was actually very supportive of sexual assult victims, talking about counsoling, self defense courses, literature, etc.
    This was extended into the Clery report. A very large chunk of it was didicated to sexual assult: the report is 24 pages long, and 15 pages of actual content. Of that, 3 solid pages deal with sexual assult. That’s 1/5th of the entire report.
    For the statistics, they report 3 forcible assults in 2007. This is lower than 11 and 8, the two previous years, which might be somehow related to the massacre that happened there in 2007 (The massacre is shown further up, under manslaughter. 32 deaths) Perhaps the police cracked down on dangerous situations, or not as many students were present on campus, or the mindset of the campus changed somehow.
    The report was incredibly supportive of those sexually assulted. It tells how to report a crime, counsoling centers, a step by step if you’ve been assulted, and much more.
    (Oh, btw, this report clarifies. VT can handle sexual assults both internally and through the legal system. Victims are encouraged to press charges in both, as far as they can.)
    Judging from this report, the VT police department is very sensitive and didicates a lot of effort to sexual assult cases, while actual sexual assults appear to be a minor problem. They are not surpressing any cases, and in fact their response seems almost disproportionate to the scale of the problem.
    (According to the United Nations statistics, in the US there were .3 rapes per 1000 people during the period 1998-2000. That puts VT’s 27000 people right at about 8.1 rapes per two years. Their numbers are very close to this range. I therefore conclude that there is most likely not a problem with underreporting rapes in Virginia Tech.)

  • jessica

    I appreciate your story. I have a couple of similar stories to yours. I felt that because I wasn’t clear in saying no (although there was an instance where I clearly said no, and it happened anyway) that maybe part of it was my fault. I felt that maybe the person misunderstood and I rationalized it, because it seems people would feel that I “put myself in that situation” I feel that it’s important to speak out about rape and sexual assault, because some women are socialized into feeling that it’s somehow their fault when it’s not. At my school I reported it, but there will be a school hearing where I am going to face him. He could be expelled from the university, but there are no criminal charges.

  • cunegonde

    I’m a current college student, still getting over those feelings of responsibility or at least complacency in my own case of acquaintance rape. I didn’t report my case because I don’t want people to know it happened. I’ve dealt with feeling “marked,” like I wear a neon sign and everyone sees me as a “Sexual Assault Victim,” though I’ve only told a few close friends about the incident at all. I also don’t want to prosecute the perpetrator for a lot of reasons, some of which being I don’t want to confront him about this, I don’t want to hear the litany of victim blaming I’m sure will come my way, and I honestly don’t want to ruin his life over one stupid thing. There are lots of social reasons to hold out on reporting, too; we live in the same apartment building and we have many mutual friends (among whom he is more “popular” than I am).
    I know I’m being selfish by not reporting it. Maybe I will some time in the future.

  • Casey

    IIRC, wasn’t there a fairly large (n=5000+ or so) back in the middle 1990’s that had the sexual assault rate at large (> 8,000 students) at just at 3 in 10, for undergraduates, and something like 45% for graduate students? I can’t cite it immediately, and it came out over ten years ago, but it made a huge impact on the larger feminist community at my UG institution, and the school across town as well.
    Enough of an impact that it led to the admin overhauling all reporting proc’s for any crime on campus- and this during a re-accreditation process.
    Does anyone recall this other than me?
    I put this up, b/c I cannot fathom that the rate would have dropped to levels equal to that of the national rate in the mere span of a decade or so. I simply not sensible to accept the reported rates when other measures indicate higher ones, consistently.

  • Lilly

    I’ve seen the study you mention, but I don’t have a citation. The story I heard about that one was that it had very different results, and non-reproducible results than other studies on the same topic. The reason supposedly was that the person performing the study thought the problem was bigger than was reported, so she did a lot of surveys, but she got similar results for people self-reporting sexual assult. So she did more survays, this time asking about their experiences, then classifed the experiences she felt were assult as rape. That’s where the huge numbers came from, she reclassifed their experiences. Apparantly a later study went back and contacted the same people, and almost all of them thought their experiences were too small or not worth reporting.
    Now, I’m not sure how reliable that was. I’d have to look at the actual study and criticms of it.

  • Casey

    ok- thanks- so coding and methodological errors. I think I’ll dig around AAPOR and see if anyone has that data held anywhere.

  • GraceMP

    This is a very timely discussion for me. I’m a sophomore at Dickinson College – a very small liberal arts school in central PA. I’m currently working on a documentary with a friend of mine about sexual violence on campus. My reasons for doing this project are numerous and varied, but I’d definitely say that having three of my close friends being raped on this campus so far is a driving force. People don’t talk about it – people pretend like it’s not that big of a deal, that it doesn’t happen that often, and that’s completely false. I don’t think the experience here is particularly unique to the campus … something that’s been confirmed after reading all these posts.
    I want to thank you all for sharing your knowledge. Part of our research will be to probe how the school handles these cases. I have heard the “having to go before the board” story before, and if that is how Dickinson handles things, we will do everything we can to show what’s wrong with that.
    Thank you all!! We’re going to shatter the silence!!

  • LlesbianLlama

    I think this is a huge issue that needs more attention. Thanks for the great post.
    I will share some of my own experiences, which certainly differ from the experiences of many others because I attend a very liberal, small women’s liberal arts college. Our campus “public safety” as we call them are absolutely NOT free from problems in many areas, notably race relations, but as a student and a senior I have found their response to sexual assaults on campus to be well-handled. I have not been sexually assaulted during my time in college, though I have been a victim of a sexual assault in the past, and I feel as if it impacts the way I handle news about the sexual assaults of others in some way. I am pretty hyper-vigilant. The situation on our campus is different especially because not only are there less men on campus, but the administration does not have to balance their obligations to each student, as the perpetrators of sexual assault are less likely to be students. Of course the potential for same-sex sexual assault is always there, and something that is all too often ignored. I do not know of any incidents of this on our campus and don’t think any have been reported, which is not to say they haven’t happened. Statistically speaking I suspect they are less prevalent. When the perpetrator is a biological male and the victim is a female and especially when she is a student of our college, the administration and security forces have an ABSOLUTE obligation to her. Sexual assaults are taken very seriously. Because there is no avenue for internal punishment of a male perp, the issue is investigated through a combination of college security and local police forces, and if the victim decides to press charges the transition is handled very well. A friend of mine chose to pursue legal action against the man [another college student] who sexually assaulted her and she was very pleased with the way law enforcement and security handled the situation.
    I do know that in cases where the victim is comfortable doing so a campus-wide email is sent alerting the campus of the incident. The email does not include identifiable information, but does include, if available, a description of the perpetrator. The email is not always sent, but our Cleary Act stats are available on the campus security’s website.
    Especially notable to me is the amount of information we receive about the protocol for reporting a sexual assault– who to go to, the investigation process, etc. I know I have been told this information repeatedly from day 1. During first-year orientation there is a segment on sexual violence, and there is also a student sexual health educator group which deals with these issues as an additional resource. As part of dorm activities it is common for campus security to run workshops on self-defense and I was very pleased having attended several of them and NEVER hearing victim blaming. The sessions are empowering without crossing into the line of “it’s your fault if you can’t fight someone off.”
    Part of this is, I think, going to a smaller school, which has a different social and administrative environment. Going to a women’s college, our administration faces not only an obligation to the *entire* student body, but also to every potential student to ensure that they do everything possible to make our campus safe. I never appreciate this more than when I hear about the experiences of women on other campuses.
    I’m sorry this is so long, and I really do hope it comes across more as my sharing my experiences than about making a statement about the value of women’s colleges over co-ed colleges because that is really not my intent.

  • LlesbianLlama

    Oh, I should also point out that as a nearby women’s college there was a huge outcry several years ago about a same-sex group sexual assault on a student by other students which was handled very poorly. I think this issue is too often overlooked and needs to be addressed as well, in addition to female sexual assaults on males. It’s not as prevalent but it’s nearly invisible and I’m sure gets swept under the rug just as often.

  • Keliz

    I can’t speak to Virginia Tech, but I think it is misleading to look at what they say on the public website. Of course the website is supportive of victims and presents a very politically correct picture. What universities say in their official literature and how they actually handle cases in reality can be (and often are) very different.
    I think that is most of what women are speaking to here. I know that part of the reason I did report my rape was because I truly believed all of the articles and online information that have been telling me all my life that officials deal with rape appropriately and sympathetically these days. I was very naive.
    The United Nations figure of recorded rapes may be in line with recorded rapes at the University, but to say then there is no problem assumes that rape occurs at the same rate at university as among the general population. As the author of the original post noted “the university experience is one of several that throw a high concentration of young adults together in the presence of stress and alcohol”. I would add that not only do you have stress and alcohol, but people are often in a new and unfamiliar environment which can make people doubt their actions more than they would in a community they are used to.
    I’m not saying your point is wrong, I just think it may be more complicated and less verifiable.

  • voluptuouspanic

    I wonder how much underreporting happens because of the wording of “official” stuff from universities, making students feel responsible, among other reasons. I know when a bulletin goes out at my grad school about an assault, there’s always a postscript. The postscript is usually “know your surroundings, don’t walk alone at night” etc. Very “you are responsible for your safety” stuff. Granted, in a big city, you should be careful. But the wording suggests it’s entirely up to you.
    At my undergrad, the signs in the bathrooms, the talks from the RAs, etc, that all had a similar tone. Don’t drink at parties, don’t set your drink down, don’t go into boys rooms, stay with friends, lock your dorm door at night (we had co-ed dorms). Nothing about it not ever being your fault. Nothing ever in the men’s bathroom or in the fraternity houses.
    Maybe it’s just me, but all that would make me feel personally responsible for anything that happened to me because I did X Y and Z “wrong”.

  • FemWarrior

    It is so interesting that you wrote this because I am currently dealing with Pace University’s sexual assault protocol and resources on campus. What prompted the attention to the lack of protocol was a girl was sexually assaulted on a street near campus and she went to a professor at the school, because has little to no information on their website on what to do. Our cleary act records are most definitely skewed. I am a senior at Pace and worked as a TA and many young students, predominantly Freshman, would talk casually about hearing stories of sexual assault and sometimes even rape occuring on campus. But the problem is if there are no steps for a sexual assault victim to resort to, the chances of reporting are basically nonexistent as you would assume. Also, the protocol before we were reviewing it, was that students should report to security guards whenever they had to report a sexual assualt. The problem is! Security guards have been continually fired and reported for sexually harassed students and saying rude comments when students pass by. Last fall a guard was fired when a high school student visited the school and he hugged and kissed her (she was 13)… So not only is lack of protocol a problem, but sometimes campus police can be a reason not to report for fear of not being believed or taken advantage of…
    Great post, thanks so much for keeping an eye on campus sexual assault. As most of the people reading these comments, women in college are in the age group which hold the highest risk of being sexually assaulted and the fact that colleges are not doing more to prevent this just proves how misogyny and patriarchy dominate this culture.
    You could also look into sexual assault committed by start athletes on campus. My professor and other friends of mine have said they have had students/friends who have been sexually assaulted by athletes and when they report it, it gets shoved under the rug and forgotten becuase they don’t want to jeopardize the team’s winnings by disciplining the assailant.

  • kb

    I do also find this interesting. I would agree, that there’s pressure from the university to handle it in ways that don’t get reported. interestingly, my university had a high profile case about this last year, and after huge scandal I think(not sure, and this is even after I took the sexual harassment training.) that the policy now is that there is no internal investigation option-rapes are investigated by the police or not reported. Which strikes me as the worst way to try and make this issue better. Take the choice to prosecute away. that’s totally the way to make it better /scarcasm. and TAs(me) are mandatory reporters. I hate that. If one of my students feels comfortable enough to tell me something, I don’t want to have to stop her and tell her I can’t keep it confidential. However, I don’t know what the better way to do this is, other than completely changing student minds and perceptions overnight.

  • emmakitty

    At my school (Washington State University), I know that there is a clear procedure for when a sexual assault is reported (although I’m not entirely clear what it is) but the administrative powers that be tend to play down the amount of sexual assault that goes on around campus. The administration also did something similar last semester when several hate crimes and violent attacks against members (or perceived members) of the queer community; the LGBTA had to really fight in order to get the incidents recognized as hate crimes — the university wanted them to be known as isolated incidents of violence, even though they were all similar in nature and all against members of the same minority community.
    Also, even though the university deals with sexual assault and incidents of violence in its own way, the Greek community does deal with a lot of things internally. I’m not trying to pick on anyone who’s in a sorority or anything, but there have been rumors on campus of women who were assaulted or raped at Greek parties and then told by their sorority sister not to report the incident because it would have brought to light issues about underage drinking in the house. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but its an example of how even if universities and other organizations are following policy, there might be social sanctions from other sub-groups within an institution that influence a woman’s choice to report an incident of sexual assault or rape.

  • CelestePulchra1414

    O I have tons to say about this. My school in NY reported ZERO rapes, sexual assaults, etc in the year that I was assaulted and reported it! They scheduled his hearing seven months after the incident, and they didn’t let me go to it! So, not having my side of the story at all, they of course found him guilty- of inappropriate conduct! The point is that when it IS sexual assault, their calling it something else and reporting THAT, which is not what they are supposed to be doing. I wrote up a report for this- In most surveys it is reported that 20% of women are assaulted during their college career. However, in terms of reporting, at my school .0008 percent of the population reported assaults, and thats only for undergrads! And a National College Womens Sexual Assault study found that 7% of women assaulted report their crimes, but that means .014 percent of college women have REPORTED sexual assaults, so how is it that the numbers are so off unless the schools are lying? How they can even think that 7 women out of an 18,000 student undergrad population, in FOUR years were assualted is completely ridiculous. It’s not even a good lie. I put this information and the whole Clery Act fine with other laws they were breaking into a nice packaged ultimatum to change their practices or we (the feminist group) would send our package to all the newspapers and the board of education about two months ago. We have made little progress, and will soon report our findings to the proper authorities, but who knows if anything will actually happen.

  • orange

    Yes, I remember this being a huge problem at Georgetown. I can’t recall the details, but there was an odd student court system that strongly deterred victims from going through with reporting. In addition to that, there was a huge binge drinking culture and an alarmingly high number of affluent, connected, and self-entitled male students. I too am concerned that universities are dealing with these situations rather than the police. If someone is interested in researching this further, you could look at back issues of the student newspaper The Hoya or contact the women’s group on campus.

  • Lilly

    Your numbers make no sense. If 0.0008 percent of a 18000 person population was assulted, that evaluates to .144 assults. If only 7 percent of these women report their assults to the authorities, that means the authorties should have about 0.01008 assults reported. Assuming the population resets every 4 years, it should take over 400 years for a single assult to be reported.
    Your numbers seem to be nonsense.

  • amylcavender

    I was one of the staff people on the SAVA (Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocacy) team at Louisiana State University. We offered support and resources for people who were sexually assaulted, whether on campus or not, whether it happened when they were students or not. I never experienced any pressure from above to not file a report about an attack.
    If the survivor wanted to file a police report, we would help them go through that process, including finding an escort for them if they needed a rape kit/forensic exam. If the survivor didn’t want to file a police report, then we would file an anonymous report to meet the requirements of the Clery Act.
    One thing that I’ve noticed in some of the comments is stories about on-campus disciplinary hearings. I can understand why people would view those with suspicion, but there’s actually a reason why those might be useful in some instances… If someone is accused of sexually assaulting someone, charged, and arrested, as soon as he or she makes bail, he or she is out again and can come back on campus, et cetera. The criminal justice process can sometimes take a long while to determine whether or not someone committed a crime, even if there’s no bout in the mind of the survivor. The campus disciplinary process can move a bit faster, and can result in offenders being banned from certain buildings or areas, or even the entire campus, upon pain of arrest for trespassing (which is much easier to prove). The offender may also be expelled or suspended.
    The campus disciplinary hearing can also take place without forensic evidence, which allows for the survivor to have some sort of justice even if there isn’t enough evidence for the prosecution of a criminal case. It’s not a perfect system, but it offers some opportunities that the criminal system can’t.

  • crazyface8d

    I am a graduate from SUNY Albany, and my Junior year there was a number of rapes and attacks that drew media attention, one being a case involving several football players. The victim reported the case but it was shocking how fast she was blamed and sites were created on Facebook against her. The poor girl ended up dropping out of the university.
    The school decided to hold an open forum on what took place to take questions from students. While I thought this was a step in the right direction I was also handed a paper that was directed to women only on how to avoid being attacked such as how to dress!

  • bigUps2allmyhaters

    my school (university of illinois at chicago) sends out email alerts to all students and staff when crimes happen on campus, which are usually a litany of break-ins and armed robberies.
    one day a student sent out a message on the campus feminists’ email list telling everyone about an incident where she was sexually harassed by a man trying to take pictures of her in one of the womens’ bathrooms on campus. women kept replying to this message saying that the same thing had happened to them, but still nothing came out from the campus police or administration. eventually, after dozens of women complained about the serial harassment, the university police FINALLY sent out an email alert.
    i don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the whole thing stank to high heaven.

  • Pheagan

    Oh, yeah, Hofstra. I spit on this university because of the experience I had. I don’t even know how much I want to get into it. Suffice to say, I was friends with this guy, the usual thing happened where he thought liking me entitled him to having me, he threw a piece of school equipment at me, I punched him, he strangled me and threw me against a wall and had to be dragged off by a group of people.
    Of course, they blamed me, since I threw a punch, and they ended up testifying against me and said he was restraining me by the throat. So the interesting thing that happened was, there were two trials, one for me, one for him, but I didn’t know that. I only got a letter about my trial, and I assumed it was the trial against him (I pressed charges not after this incident but when he stalked me and threw a knife at me), and I was wondering why it was so weird and then a few days later I was notified I missed his trial and his charges would be dropped. But I had to go to anger management.
    And that was when I realized the letter I got had been stapled, but there was only a single sheet. I’m pretty sure someone who worked in the office ripped off the sheet with his trial date on it. Also, usually uni trials should ideally take no more that two weeks to happen, but this took three months. In the meantime I lived in the same building as this guy and he was going nuts and stalking me. I went to the police, the Nasau country police, who were known for staffing out public safety department. They said that if they arrested him for stalking me, they’d have to arrest me since I had punched him. I was encouraged to move out of the house since the trial was taking so long, and I said basically why should I move, he’s stalking me, he can keep on stalking me but I’m not moving. And me not acting like a victim definitely was not in favor.
    So he never got kicked out, I moved, and missed all my anger management courses. This wasn’t a sexual assault. What happened was one of the girls who spoke in his defense came to me a few months later and said he’d tried to rape her. I took her to the Dean’s office, who had basically been the woman who I was familiar with in all this, who had encouraged me to move out and this and that. God knows why I went to her. All I know is that girl went into that office and came out convinced she shouldn’t report the attempted assault.
    And from then on Public Safety and the Nassau County Police had it in for me. I had encounters with them on a few incidents and they knew me and had pinned me as a troublemaker because I had bothered them so much trying to get them to do something about this guy who had thrown a knife at me and left bruises on my neck and my back all torn up (oh yeah, that was the other thing, they lost the pictures of the damage when I called in the Nassau County Police when I tried to press charges against him– and this one Public Safety Officer wrote on his notepad “Don’t listen to them”, but I didn’t see a way of not going to jail). Anyhow I know that’s awfully convoluted, I haven’t recounted it in a long time, but what I witnessed was: collusion between the police force and the public safety department to keep crimes from being reported, a dean manipulating a teenage girl out of reporting her rape, trial dates taking much longer than they should have, and possible information being witheld from me.
    If I could set that damn school on fire I would. Fuck you, Hofstra.

  • CelestePulchra1414

    O, that’s not what I said. Look, I had the exact numbers when I did the report, but I don’t want to look it up again, so the numbers may be slightly altered. 18,000 undergrads with roughly half female is 9,000 (the real number was 8,500 or something). Now if you divide 7 by 9,0000 (7 is the numbed reported over four years), then .00077 (or .0008) percent of the population at my school has reported being assaulted. However, reports cite that 20% of the women in college have been assaulted, or 1800 women at my school. It is further reported that of those women who are assaulted, 7 percent of them report it. So 7 percent of 1800 is 126 who according to reports should have not only been assaulted but reported those assaults to the authorities which would require them to be in the Clery act. 9000 times .014 is 126, so that would be 1.4 percent of the population in college is sexually assaulted and reports it. While at my school, their records say that .0008 percent are assaulted and report it. I admit that I missed the decimal on the 1.4 and made it .014 in the report, but that is a typo and not an attempt to mislead. Also, it makes my case even better because the difference of what is supposed to be reported and what is being said has been reported is even bigger.