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UO fights sexual assaults – with website, essays, public records charges?

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG:

“Only one rapist — a person found responsible for rape — was expelled” from the UO between 2009 and 2012, researcher Caroline Heldman said in a recent presentation delivered on the Eugene campus on UO crime statistics, practices and policies.

The UO sanctions “don’t actually treat this like a crime,” Heldman said. “You have a 1 percent expulsion rate for rape, compared with national data that ranges from 10 percent to 24 percent.”

Sexual assault is the hottest topic in higher education this week as the White House launched its own campaign to hold colleges accountable for campus safety. To better inform their argument it might be insightful to check out Ly Lawyers Crime Statistics to give these kinds of crimes an international perspective.

“This has been unfolding at breakneck speed,” said UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd, who has studied the subject for more than two decades and was invited to the White House for its announcement this week. …

While the university also requires all employees to complete the harassment prevention program, Freyd said she has qualms about that training, which is an online module.

“It is not a solution to ignorance to take a passive online test, and, in fact, a lot of people resent it,” she said. “They feel they’re being forced to do something. Information is being stuffed down their throat. They see it as less than respectful and useful.”

For training to be effective, it has to engage recipients intellectually and emotionally, she said.

“This online training is being largely created by insurance companies,” she said. “The problem right now is being addressed as a liability reduction risk management problem. Universities should be focusing on education, not liability reduction, per se.”

The Los Angeles researchers criticized the UO’s general attitude about sexual assault, describing it as a rape-tolerant culture. The 15 to 35 UO students a year found to have committed forcible offenses are suspended for a limited time or forced to write essays, the researchers reported.

UO’s response to this problem has been the typical passive-agressive stonewalling. As one example, President Gottfredson’s office wanted to charge the UO student paper for public records on UO expenditures on prevention efforts, although Dave Hubin gave up on this quixotic effort after some pressure, and waived the $70 fee.


  1. Anas Clypeata 05/02/2014

    Maybe this isn’t the venue for this question, but why is this type of assault treated as a student discipline issue rather than a felony?

    Sexual intercourse via forcible compulsion is a class A felony:

    Compare that to second degree assault, “intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] serious physical injury”, a class B felony:

    Would second degree assault, a class B felony, be treated as a student discipline issue instead of an actual felony?

    I am legitimately asking here. I am not a lawyer.

    • Anonymous 05/03/2014

      RAINN, a leading advocacy organization in this area, agrees with you. They argue that campus judicial boards, while well intentioned, are the wrong solution. Instead universities can and should do much more to focus on prevention, support and care services, and coordinating with law enforcement to treat rape as the serious crime that it is. Their response to the White House task force is very interesting reading:

  2. uomatters Post author | 05/02/2014

    My understanding is that universities can impose penalties on students under a less rigorous civil standard of proof than would be needed under criminal law.

    In practice, universities are notorious for discouraging assaulted or raped students from pursuing criminal charges, and even from using the university’s administrative procedures, particularly when the accused perpetrator is a revenue sport athlete.

  3. dog 05/02/2014

    My belief, as a narrow scoped non-impact dog is that the concept
    of accountability and the University of Oregon are not associated
    at all

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