7/14/2014, In Al Jazeera America:
… It is not trivial to measure sexual victimization or perpetration, because these are stigmatized behaviors. People don’t readily admit to abusing others or being abused themselves. Researchers have worked for decades to discover how to ask behavior-oriented questions that avoid charged language and pick up underlying experience. We are now equipped to assess sexual violence experiences through careful social science survey methodology using a representative sample of students. Eventually these campus violence surveys should be standardized and administered at the same time on campuses across the nation.
However, the first step will be to test various versions of such a survey on individual campuses. This pilot work will provide useful information to the local school and help the national effort to create a standardized survey. Currently, however, those of us researchers willing to perform such surveys are meeting a vast amount of administrative resistance at our universities.
That resistance — combined with a tendency for colleges to retaliate against faculty who speak up about sexual violence on their own campuses — has created a difficult climate for sexual violence researchers.
For example, when I requested help from my university to conduct such a survey, officials turned down my request and then, in explaining that decision, speculated to the press about my supposed bias due to my personal opinions. Those personal opinions were presumably related to my criticism of the university regarding its response to campus sexual violence. This public attack on my reputation and integrity as a scientist was unfounded and irresponsible. Unfortunately, for those of us who have criticized our universities or attempted to collect data about the rates of sexual assault on our own campuses, it’s not unusual. I worry about the chilling effect this sort of institutional response has on individuals who want to speak honestly but lack my job security and credibility.
Each college and university now has a choice: nervously guard its reputation at the profound expense of student well-being or courageously invest in student safety, health and education. College campuses need to know what they are fighting. Enabling the methodical collection of data — and encouraging their transparent distribution and study — will signal to campus communities across the country that institutional betrayal can be replaced by institutional courage.
And a few examples of institutional betrayal:
7/13/2014: Hobart & William Smith Colleges rape investigation:
Another appalling story about how colleges handle rape allegations involving frats and jocks. In the NYT, here.
Also in the NYT: Indian Girl’s Rape Called Case of Eye-for-Eye Village Justice