Dane’s First Post

Good News/Bad News for Women in College

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about sexual assault on college campuses.

“1 in 4/5!”

“Caveman Fraternities!”

Well, there is good news and bad news for all students on campus who care about this sort of thing.

Good News

The “1-in-5 female students” statistic is probably bullsquirt.

The most recent study providing these numbers is the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study conducted by the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (yeah, apparently that’s a thing). Social science is already an iffy proposition but the CSAS suffers from a few dubious acts of research.

  • The survey was conducted at only two college campuses.
  • It was also conducted online; web-based surveys have much lower response rates than other surveys, such as face-to-face interviews.
  • Definition of “sexual assault” was broadened to include “sexual touching”, lesser acts such as forcible kissing and fondling.

One of the study’s coauthors actually wrote that “there are caveats that make it inappropriate to use the number as a baseline when discussing rape and sexual assault on campus.”

Bad News

Rape still happens on college campuses.

Whatever the numbers are, high or low, when rape occurs it is still horrible. One is too many.

False reports only make the situation worse.

Unfortunately, in recent years some of the most famous rape cases are ones in which the crime did not occur. For example, several members of the Duke LaCrosse team were accused of rape by a woman some years ago; the end result was that the team members were acquitted, the prosecutor disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct, and the “victim” is currently serving time for second-degree murder.

Commonly cited problems in prosecuting sexual crimes is the inability of victims to get police or members of the community to take accusations seriously. When false accusations are made, it is the real victims who will face a society made skeptical by lies—and suffer for it.

Furthermore, what of the falsely accused? A stigma follows them throughout their lives, only lessened by distance or time, while the accuser who knowingly files false claims with police and campus authorities often gets lauded for “courage.”

Rape can only be fought with the truth and the encouragement for women—victims and otherwise—to defend themselves.


4 thoughts on “Dane’s First Post

  1. Since the stats and process research you have found were invaluable it seems, from my perspective, that the focus was on ‘numbers’ being too high- it is very very important when looking at the statistic collection process of outdated processes, to focus on the drastic lack of male cases.
    I see men going through the same thing women do when being pushed, taken advantage of and treated like sex objects.
    My passion here is truly about the Roles and Gender retaliation I witness by women, pushing back against the Inferior sexual dominance role of being weak and disadvantaged.
    Instead of pushing for equality here, it has been taken to the reverse extreme and women are “taking their turn” and being the sexually dominant – emotionally disattatched- ‘Playa’.


    Thanks for your post Dane, it’s important to talk about.

  2. Dane,

    Thanks for the post. Very interesting perspective. It seems to me if you found your sources to be invalid, you might think about finding one to off-set or counteract that one.

    I think this is a very important topic and you are facing it at the perfect public audience; given over half of our class is female and we’re all part of the student body.

    Thanks for being the first to step up to the plate. Can’t wait to read more of your blogs.


  3. This is a very important topic and one that’s been definitely a hot media topic in the last year or so. My only concern, Dane, is that your “good news” part of the 1-in-5 students being false based on the limited research done could actually still be bad news in that perhaps it’s even more than 1-in-5, especially because of the issues that come with reporting a sexual assault (as you noted in the bad news section). It’s a difficult issue to gauge and report on via only surveys, and it’s always come with unspecific numbers due to the lack of reporting by victims.

    You say, “Rape can only be fought with the truth and the encouragement for women—victims and otherwise—to defend themselves.” I would say that rape can only be fought by truth, encouragement, removal of victim shaming and educating not only women but also men to stand up against sexual assaults. We all need to protect each other, the responsibility cannot only fall on women. I know you didn’t say that, but I just wanted to make that point. We have in the past focused efforts on education women and teaching them to say NO, but there’s a new wave taking off that is saying we need to also teach men what NO means, and how to also stand up again other men (and women) who are attempting to sexually assault others.

    Anyway, great post – I like that this class is touching on some really difficult topics!

  4. Thanks for bringing this topic, while I was reading this all I could picture was the female student who carried her mattress around and to her graduation day as well.

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