Posts Tagged ‘UW sexual assault’

What to make of these sexual assault reports

March 2, 2010

I meant to post on this yesterday in conjunction with the story run by the Herald (which should have been featured more prominently online), but I am currently without a laptop. There is so much to cover here, but I think 4 specific things deserve mention.

1. As Jack mentioned yesterday, the report cited included some disquieting statistics on the disparity between occurrences of actual rape, and actual reports filed. These stats are outrageous, and the barriers faced by victims which can be controlled need to be addressed.

The estimated number of rapes outnumbers reports of sexual assaults on UW System campuses and at the flagship UW-Madison by a margin of 17-1. With reporting levels so low, nearly all rapists go unpunished, whether by schools or the criminal justice system.

2. Sexual Assault is a much bigger problem than almost everyone thinks. In fact, based on these numbers, it is probably the single greatest threat to a womans safety while on campus.

How many rapes or attempted rapes are occurring on Wisconsin campuses?

National surveys of college women are the most accurate way to estimate campus rape, researchers say. An oft-cited federal National Institute of Justice study in 2000 estimated 35 rapes per 1,000 students each academic year.

At a school the size of UW-Madison, with about 21,600 women in 2008, national statistics suggest there could be 750 rapes or attempted rapes a year.

3. Victims of sexual assault are no more dishonest than any other victim. Fact.

Research suggests rapes are no more likely to be falsely reported than any other crime. Yet advocates say a cultural double standard creates a powerful barrier to reporting.

4. Lori Berquam: You f*cked up!

In her response to the article release by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Lori Berquam neither mentions, nor acknowledges any of these obvious points. No promises of reform, or emphasis on recent changes, or even an acknowledgement of just how much of a problem this is (she calls sexual assault a “public health concern”), just a pat on the back and an exercise in self-preservation of her bureaucracy.

Kudos to the Herald for running the article, even if it wasn’t crafted by their writers.

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Alleged Sexual Assault: “UW…acted with deliberate indifference”

February 25, 2010

This will be big news tomorrow, and going into the future. From a report released on the website of the Center of Public Integrity:

It took nine months in 2005 and 2006 for the University of Wisconsin at Madison to contemplate, then reject filing disciplinary charges against a crew team member accused of rape.

Enough time for the accused student to start his fourth year at the university, compete in another rowing season, and glide into another spring as a celebrated college athlete.

Enough time, too, for an enraged encounter with his accuser, Laura Dunn, at a fraternity party. “He started threatening me,” said Dunn. “When he hit the wall, he used his whole forearm, and just slammed within inches of my head.”

The story:

Laura Dunn was a member of the crew team, too, during her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. She left the next year after the alleged rape by two teammates, she said, made the already-slender athlete lose weight and sleep. But even as her crew career fell apart, she didn’t report anything to campus authorities for more than a year.

The Universities response:

The university said a police investigation and the alleged victim’s objections to one of her investigating officers accounted for the delay. The criminal investigation, too, ended without charges against the accused student, who said Dunn willingly participated in sexual activity.

The early assessment:

“UW … acted with deliberate indifference,” wrote former Security On Campus, Inc. legal advocate Alice Purple. “The harassment that Ms. Dunn was forced to undergo was so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it deprived her of educational benefits by forcing her to quit the crew team and causing her grades to fall.”

I just wanted to get this up for now. More commentary to come tomorrow.