Colleges are Rape Hot Spots, So….

….what are the stewards of higher education in the US to do?

For starters, they should come clean with us about the nature and extent of sexual assault and alcohol-related victimizations on our campuses.  They need to take immediate new steps to ensure women on campus are safe and secure.  They are sitting on a ton of information.  They have more than enough reasons, morally and legally, to act.

Here is just some of what the studies tell us about rape on campus.

Over 90% of all victims are women.

20-25% of all women students report being victimized sexually during their college years.  They report this to survey research, not to the campus administration.   That’s one of every four or five girls.  Colleges are rape hot spots, in crime analysis jargon.

Almost all campus rapes involve victims and perps who know one another.

Five words: booze, sexual assault, first-year, second-year.  Nearly 90% take place in the victims’ freshman and sophomore years.  Alcohol incidents are the number one concern for public safety personnel on campus and they also are densely concentrated among freshmen and sophomores.  Alcohol is a factor in over 70% of sexual assault cases, for victims and perps.

Most colleges and universities’ policies involve covering up the problem. Many blame the victims.  Recent extreme cases are:

A travesty at Occidental in LA in which the U. hired a powerful PR firm to cow LA Times editors, whose staff uncovered a big cover-up of sexual assaults on campus.  The PR firm made the issue  whether the law required them to disclose 27 sexual assault complaints lodged in 2012.  The paper fired their reporter but nothing has been done about all the allegations.

My God.  Kids are getting sexually abused, as in emotionally damaged for life,  and the school wants to pettifog.  How cynical is that?  The federal law in question is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall in 1986.  The backlash against unreported crimes on numerous campuses across the country led to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, enacted in 1990.

The Jameis Winston case at Florida State, in which the school, the DA  and Tallahassee police, um, forgot? to investigate a rape allegation against the eventual 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.  The FSU prez who oversaw this debacle received 25% of his monstrosity of a $700,000 salary from the FOOTBALL BOOSTERS.  And, I am not making this up, Penn State just hired him!

Do they teach these ghoulish practices at the “new president seminars?” Who teaches? Vlad the Impaler?  They can’t seem to summon the basic compassion and integrity to abide by the Clery Act, the spirit of which is to prevent rapes!

It’s not that the administrations are unaware.  For some in the administration it’s all they talk about.  Attend the Monday morning meeting of the public safety, health and and student life staffs at any university, from Orono to San Diego, from Seattle to Miami.  The players change but the game is the same. Close your eyes and listen to the themes that run through every report at every session: male privilege, immaturity and booze.

They know where it’s happening; when it’s happening; the factors that contribute to it; who the victims are; and who is attacking them.

But the beat, literally, of sexual assault goes on.  No problem in the history of humans has ever been solved or ameliorated by the cover-up.  The institution’s failure to take rape of its women members seriously only deepens the damage and the long-term emotional and psychological effects.  University officials who engage in cover-ups, as most do, have blood on their hands.

Perhaps all the over-paid presidents are afraid of  the Spanish Flu Effect?  The 1918 influenza pandemic is known as “Spanish” because Spain was neutral in WW I and did not censor its press.  The flu seems to have originated with US soldiers from Ft. Riley, Kansas. Spain wore it because they talked about it openly.  If the presidents tell the truth and take effective steps to stop the victimizations do they fear being known to history — or, heaven forfend, the donors — as Rape State? Not likely.  In any case may we assure them that the girl who dies not get raped three years from now will thank them.

Rape is rape.  It doesn’t become some benign drinking game because it take place in a dorm.  It is the second worst crime the victim can experience, with homicide being the worst. The incidents inflict horrible, lasting injuries and can lead to battery, disfigurement and death just like all rapes can.  It’s no less devastating experience when committed by college boys.

Victims who come forward should be helped to file criminal complaints.  Rapists found guilty should be imprisoned.

This blog does not believe in enforcement and punishment as the best criminal justice policy to solve all problems.  In this case, however, we need sexual assault investigators and a DA to summon what Red Auerbach called the “intestinal fortitude.”  They need to vigorously prosecute these cases.

Perhaps the reality of  a rape conviction and some swift and certain justice might have sufficient force to influence the 19 year-old underdeveloped male’s brain drunk on alcohol and hormones.

 

 

 

 

 

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About stephenomeara

My name is Jim Jordan. I have had the privilege of working with the Boston Police Department and hundreds more departments over my nearly 30-year career in police administration and city government. I am now teaching and consulting independently at www.sergeantsleadership.org. I have learned the best of what I know from the thousands of smart, dedicated and ethical police personnel and scholars who have guided me along the way. My address is named for the great Reform commissioner of the Boston Police at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioner O'Meara died just a short while before the Strike in 1919. He was replaced by a vicious puppet (of Gov. Coolidge) named Edwin U. Curtis. Had O'Meara lived events may have turned out quite differently.
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