Five years ago, Rolling Stone magazine plunged the University of Virginia into turmoil with its infamous article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA.” Though totally discredited, the story prompted intensive soul-searching by a campus administration primed to believe in the existence of a “rape culture” at the university. As documented in the latest edition of Cville magazine, the university dedicated considerable resources to address the problem of sexual assault.
The university adopted a Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence, instituted outreach and training programs, developed a system for reporting and tracking sexual assaults, hired a full-time Title IX coordinator, and beefed up its Equal opportunity and Civil Rights office staff. Counseling & Psychological Services nearly doubled its staff. The Women’s Center received more funding, hired trauma counselors and set up counseling hotlines.
But a curious thing happened. The incidence of sexual assault isn’t improving. Indeed, in 2018 the number of reported “rapes” leaped to 28 from 16 the year before.
In October 2019, the university’s annual safety report revealed that 28 rapes were reported in 2018, with 20 occurring in student housing, the highest number since 2014. There were also 16 reports of dating violence, 14 reports of domestic violence, 43 reports of stalking, and 16 reports of fondling—all much higher than previous years.
It’s not 100% clear what is going on. One possible explanation is that the rate of sexual assault is going down but people are more likely to report incidents than in the past. That seems dubious, however, given the incredible outcry and heightened awareness that followed the Rolling Stone article.
Another explanation is that nothing has changed because the UVa administration failed to address the underlying problem: the university’s drunken hook-up culture. Young people drink way too much, hop in bed, and make bad decisions. Sometimes young women are too drunk to give consent. Sometimes young men are too drunk to ask for consent. Sometimes young men are cads and their partners regret having had sex with them and decide later they were raped. And sometimes, rapes occur that everyone would readily recognize as a sexual assault.
The university doesn’t provide details on the rape incidents, so we don’t have a clear sense of what’s happening. That’s fine with university administrators, I suspect, because many are ideologically invested in the idea that something called a “rape culture” — similar to the incident described by Rolling Stone, even if it didn’t happen — actually exists on campus. It suits the purpose of PC campus culture to keep the definition of “rape” as broad and all-encompassing as possible.
Five years after “A Rape on Campus,” however, the numbers suggest that the only thing that has changed is the number of university administrators and counselors now on the payroll and the time/energy/focus dedicated to training and indoctrination. Sexual assaults (as defined by the university) are still occurring. How long will it take for UVa administrators to figure out that what they’re doing isn’t working?There are currently no comments highlighted.