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Universities insufficiently reporting sexual assaults, critics say.
May 31, 2013 3:58 PM   Subscribe

The University of Southern California, Dartmouth College, Swarthmore College, and the University of California, Berkeley are among higher education institutions facing recent scrutiny for their alleged failure to comply with Clery Act reporting requirements.

For example, an advocacy group at USC filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education, alleging among other things that the school failed to comply with Clery Act and with Title IX. A similar complaint was lodged against the University of California, Berkeley, and earlier this month Yale University was fined $165,000 for its inadequate reporting of campus crime statistics. A review indicating that Elizabeth City State University failed to disclose as many as 11 sexual assaults may have led to the chancellor's resignation.

Penn State University, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, is also facing investigation by the Department of Education for its potential failure to comply with the Clery Act.

The Clery Act is named for Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986. The Department of Education, charged with enforcement of the Act, has previously come under fire for its lax enforcement.

In 2013, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act included expanded reporting requirements, mandating that covered institutions report crimes involving gender identity and national origin, as well as incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting.
posted by MoonOrb (23 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

There's also some great stuff on Sociological Images about the Occidental stuff-- they've been doing a really good job of writing of this from an activist/academic viewpoint, which is a useful perspective.
posted by NoraReed at 4:14 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's Berkeley.

I think there's somewhat poor reporting going on in some of those links because at least the Berkeley complaint is not so much about reporting crime statistics as it is about (I guess) the intersection of rape and the student conduct code. Because Berkeley (presumably) meets the letter of the law by mailing every student a booklet of crime statistics every year. It's pretty much useless, but it does feature the crime statistics and some blurb about the Clery Act and I suspect that's the letter of the law.

Interestingly, my current institution does not make the statistics so readily available (I'm guessing they're on the website, but I've never looked). The campus police do send out inane crime alerts ("someone was mugged at the corner of X and Y two days ago and could not describe the suspect" or they could only give the assailant's race). Perversely, the most useful one I remember was about a suspected rape. Someone suspected they had been raped, but couldn't remember details. There was enough detail about the person's movements that someone could potentially figure out they were a witness, so that was constructive. But quite how the person felt about 60,000+ people being sent an email about their sexual assault, I don't know.
posted by hoyland at 4:18 PM on May 31, 2013

Apparently the problem at these schools gets much worse, as in not just improper Clery Act reporting, but active hostility towards rape victims by putting them on the same disciplinary level as rapists:
ThinkProgress reports that the school’s Board of Trustees chair
appeared to equate the actions of sexual assault protesters with the subsequent death and rape threats made against them by several other Dartmouth students on anonymous online forums and message boards.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dartmouth is threatening to discipline both the anti-rape protesters and the students who have made rape and death threats against those protesters. Nice!

I’d love to believe that rape-friendly campus cultures were limited to Dartmouth. Dartmouth, after all, has long had the reputation of being the most wingnutty of the Ivy League schools. It is, for example, the place where those lovely people Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza got their start in the 1980s, becoming darlings of the right by, among other things outing LGBTQ students without permission in the campus right-wing rag.

But campus rape culture is by no means restricted to Dartmouth. Last week, for example, the New York Times reported that complaints were filed against Swarthmore and Occidental Colleges for mishandling sexual assault cases. Here’s what one Occidental student had to say:
Carly Mee, now a senior, said, “When I told an administrator that I did not feel safe, I was told that I had nothing to worry about, that she had met with my rapist, and that he didn’t seem like the type of person who would do something like that.” She said that even after the man was found responsible for assaulting her and two other women, he would be allowed back to Occidental, while she was afraid to return.
And here’s what a Swarthmore student alleges:
Hope Brinn, one of those who filed the complaint against Swarthmore, said that a fellow student repeatedly sexually harassed her and broke into her room in the middle of the night. Ms. Brinn, a sophomore, said that college administrators tried to dissuade her from making a formal complaint, made light of what had happened, said that she was partly to blame, and in their official records, inaccurately described her allegations to make them seem less serious.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also been accused of covering up its rape problem and mistreating sexual assault victims. As Jessica Valenti has reported, UNC administrators
pressured the dean [Melissa Manning] to underreport sexual assault cases and harassed her when she wouldn’t. Manning also alleges that when she didn’t change the statistics, others did.
Valenti also reports that rape victims at UNC have been mistreated. There is, for example, this disgusting incident:
Annie Clark, who graduated in 2011, alleges that when she reported her rape in 2007 she was told by an administrator: “Rape is like a football game, Annie. If you look back on the game, and you’re the quarterback and you’re in charge, is there anything that you would have done differently in that situation?”
There are several issues here. One is that college administrators seek to cook the books by misreporting campus rape statistics (which they are required by law to make public). In addition, as Valenti notes, rape victims are often directed to rape counselors (who are not required to disclose rape incidents) rather than to campus police, who are. Finally, rape victims are often mistreated by campus officials and harassed by fellow students if they complain — while the rapists frequently get no more than a slap on the wrist, if that.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:19 PM on May 31, 2013 [17 favorites]

Tucker Reed, a civil rights activist and author of young adult books as well as a co-author of the Amber House trilogy and mentioned in the article, has detailed her experience in her tumblr blog Covered in Band-Aids. She also recently wrote an article for xojane,
"After being failed by my college's administration, I posted my rapist's name and photo on the internet. It was suggested to me that I didn't have to wait for others to agree with me that what had happened to me was wrong -- that I could do something about it myself, if I really wanted. My rape and the ensuing process was fairly typical. I trusted a man I was getting to know not to rape me. Then, once raped, I struggled to re-interpret myself as not-raped, because the pain and horror of accepting I had been raped was too much for me to bear. Typical.

Where my story isn't as typical begins about one month ago. After my university failed to take immediate action against the student who raped me (despite having been provided with several audio recordings in which my rapist confessed to raping me) and after I became so socially ostracized that I contemplated suicide, it was suggested to me that I did not have to wait for the world to decide whether it would advocate for me or not.

I could self-advocate. I could post my name and photograph and his name and photograph to the Internet.

And so I did.

Two months ago, I wrote a Tumblr post in which I revealed my name and the name of my rapist and included several photographs, including one of us together. I wrote, "I’m not going to hide behind anonymity. I am a part of this society."
Her series "So, how do you date a rapist? [To be clear, this is not a how-to guide.]" within the blog is really cool:
Part 1: So, how do you date a rapist?
Part 2: Were you really raped by a rapist?
Part 3: What happened after your rape?
Part 4: We went to Vegas
Part 5: Really, how do you date a rapist?
Part 6: How does a rapist manipulate you?
Part 7: How can you deny something like that for two years?
Part 8: What does a rapist look like, and how does he come to be?
As well as,
A brief legal lesson. Free of charge.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:39 PM on May 31, 2013 [30 favorites]

Seems to me fairly clear what is going on. Any act that is deemed unacceptable, bad, criminal, is handled by the school itself rather than by local police. And that means the school tries to cover things up in order to keep the reputation good, as well as not offending donors, grads, parents.
If I am right in this, then the solution is to have students report things to a local police dept rather than to the campus police, administration.
posted by Postroad at 5:07 PM on May 31, 2013

If I am right in this, then the solution is to have students report things to a local police dept rather than to the campus police, administration.

At both of my most recent college orientations (as a grad student in two institutions at North Carolina) we were explicitly told not to call the local police, even if we were off-campus. If we had to, we were supposed to call both.
posted by gerryblog at 5:14 PM on May 31, 2013

It's my 25th reunion very soon (next week? Week after? I'm not going so I've lost track) and my alumni page things on fb have been blowing up over this.

Dartmouth students disrupted some campus events for admitted first years recently to bring attention to the lack of administration response to the issue on campus, and the college is bringing them up for disciplinary action.

I am angry that nothing seems to have changed since I was there, but I'm also not terribly surprised.
posted by rtha at 5:18 PM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

And right on the heels of the protests, a freshman was arrested on rape charges. At least the women he raped (yes, plural) went to the cops and not just to college security.
posted by rtha at 5:20 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

At both of my most recent college orientations (as a grad student in two institutions at North Carolina) we were explicitly told not to call the local police, even if we were off-campus. If we had to, we were supposed to call both.

Did they justify that position at all? If you're on campus, there's possibly some kind of jurisdictional issue and you might have to go to the campus police because the city police will just bounce you back to the university police. (I believe this has been the case places I've been.) But if you're off campus, what are good they claiming contacting the university will do you?
posted by hoyland at 5:42 PM on May 31, 2013

Their position was that they could (and would) get there faster basically anywhere near campus. I showed up at Duke a few months after the lacrosse case started, so I'm sure town-gown tensions were sky-high then too.
posted by gerryblog at 5:46 PM on May 31, 2013

Shit Blasdelb, that should be a post in and of itself. Totally crazy.
posted by nevercalm at 6:07 PM on May 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

That other post about charts and statistics showing bad stuff is happening less often? You have to wonder if SOME of it is just under-reporting...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:29 PM on May 31, 2013

If I am right in this, then the solution is to have students report things to a local police dept rather than to the campus police, administration.

In many states the "campus police" is an actual police department on par with the county cops with arrest powers, and in others they're glorified rent-a-cops that move traffic cones around. That's part of the reason why this sometimes falls into a jurisdictional black hole of confusion.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 6:46 PM on May 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Shit Blasdelb, that should be a post in and of itself. Totally crazy.
posted by nevercalm

It was.
posted by jamjam at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Let me guess, we're giving loads of funding to the DoE to enforce this? I wonder what the attorney disparity is. 5:1 in favor of the universities?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:47 PM on May 31, 2013

Suppressing rape allegations is your fast track to career advancement.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:07 PM on May 31, 2013

If you're on campus, there's possibly some kind of jurisdictional issue and you might have to go to the campus police because the city police will just bounce you back to the university police.

Budget issues probably weigh heavily too. I'm sure local police, from the officers on the street up through the police administration, are all equally happy to dump student cases on the university police.
posted by ryanrs at 10:06 PM on May 31, 2013

Just this evening:

Naval Academy Is Shaken by Student’s Report of Rape by Athletes

Right, it's the Academy that's shaken, not the victim.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:29 PM on May 31, 2013

Having just finished reading "The Hydrogen Sonata" by Ian M Banks, I have to say I agree with one of his qualifications for misanthropism. I am regularly surprised by the novel and interesting ways in which our civilization/society/culture fails my rather lax standards. And thus, I am a quite the misanthropist (drunken observations not being as conducive to Hive Mind discussions as standard thoughts should be).
posted by Slackermagee at 10:54 PM on May 31, 2013

Still the best indictment of what goes on at our universities though hardly a brand new book:

The Higher Learning in America a Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities By Business Men [1918] (Paperback)
posted by Postroad at 5:46 AM on June 1, 2013

> There's also some great stuff on Sociological Images about the Occidental stuff-

From NoraReed's second link:
Instead of a sign that Occidental has a uniquely broken system, the activities on campus reflect a commitment to making the college a nationwide model. You see, we do believe that Occidental is different than other colleges. It’s extraordinary. And we’re committed to holding it to a higher standard. We want Occidental to usher in a new era of sexual assault policy and improved campus sexual culture. There will be a day when honest, transparent, and fair reporting and adjudication of sexual assaults will be the norm. When that happens, the approach we find on essentially all college campuses today — a high rate of non-report, pressure on victims to stay quiet, sloppy and biased adjudication, and suppression of sexual assault data — will be considered backward, inhumane, and unjust. That day is coming, and we want Oxy to get there first.
That makes me proud to be an Oxy grad; I'm glad they're keeping up the activist standards we had in my day (Vietnam era). And from her first:
These coalitions are creating both activist networks and fast friends. This is a picture of students at Swarthmore (Swat) showing their love for students at Occidental (Oxy). Both campuses filed Title IX complaints on the same day
That's even more important than action on any single campus, and it reminds me of how hard I pushed back then to try and get activists to coordinate between colleges (which was a lot harder before cell phones and the internet, of course). Thanks for the post, and best of luck to all the people fighting for what's right.
posted by languagehat at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2013

19 years ago, when I was raped on campus by someone I had thought was a friend, the Official Campus Solution was to have us each apologize to each other for our role in the misunderstanding and for me to move out of the dorm we shared. When my grades crashed due to depression, I was cordially asked to leave the school for at least a year while I worked on my discipline.

I should have called the police instead of letting the school handle it.
posted by KathrynT at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2013

A friend who was raped on campus was told by those in charge not to talk about it with other students.

Because that's what someone who was just raped the night before needs to hear. That they should not talk about it.

And, of course, the police refused to prosecute due to lack of evidence. He bit her so hard she had bruises for weeks.

I hate everything.
posted by Dynex at 4:17 PM on June 1, 2013

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