Despite Five Years of Programs, Campus “Rapes” Surged at UVa in 2018

by James A. Bacon

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.

Reports Cville:

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?

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10 responses to “Despite Five Years of Programs, Campus “Rapes” Surged at UVa in 2018

  1. If you build it, they will come. I am strongly in favor of creating channels for victims of sexual assault or related crimes to report them and to seek assistance in the aftermath. I am strongly opposed to notion that each university must develop its own services and facilities. Publicize a single channel at each school for reporting or seeking help, at which point the student is guided to the same resources available to all citizens.

    The idea that there is something special about campus assaults is troubling at many levels–that shouldn’t even be a term.

    • I agree totally, and would add:

      Historically, and likely still today, college campuses are the safest places in America for young women as regards physical assault, this despite the drunken hook up culture.

      Here is however a huge caveat. By and large the emotional and mental health of college and university students is appallingly bad and getting worse, has been that way for several decades, and still now getting even worse, particularly as regards young women. UVa. has been a leader in this field going from crisis to crisis over past decade. All this has been extensively documented, and written about at length.

      Now, these same problems are spreading among our young within other parts of American society and culture, but here with assaults rising. For example:

      “Uber Report Details Sexual Assaults in U.S. Over Two Years

      “Uber said it received 5,981 reports of sexual assault involving U.S. passengers or drivers during 2017 and 2018, underscoring the risk that has been a chief criticism of ride-hailing companies around the world …” See today’s Wall Street Journal.

      Or, as to mental & emotional issues:

      “Combat experience is often blamed as the root cause of suicidal behavior among veterans. But ongoing Army studies show that many troops with mental-health problems can trace them back to trauma experienced before they joined the military.

      “There is a significant and growing proportion of soldiers who enter the military with psychiatric disorders, increasing the risk over time for suicide behaviors within the Army,” according to a paper released this year from University of Washington.

      This deeper understanding of mental-health problems has prompted the Pentagon to rethink its approaches to long-term mental-health care…” For more see: Mental-Health Issues Start Before Combat article found in today’s Wall Street Journal.

      Why is this happening throughout society. The reasons are obviously complex. So are the results. We are closing down our relationships with other people, building walls of fear and distrust everywhere in America.

      As to issue of closing our society down, see this article in today’s Wall Street Journal: “Want to Date a Colleague? Think Carefully”

  2. A new book just reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, also sheds light on this complicated subject, a companion book to Becoming Human that discusses the critical elements to growing up from birth to six years old.

    The new book’s name:
    ‘Wildhood’: When Creatures Come of Age – Contemplating how we are like—and unlike—our friends in the animal kingdom, using the phenomenon of adolescence as an anchor.

    The Review By Marlene Zuk
    Dec. 5, 2019 7:19 pm ET

    “Despite the word “adolescence” in the subtitle, “Wildhood: The Epic Journey From Adolescence to Adulthood in Humans and Other Animals” is not a parenting book. It is not a book about how modern life has ruined childhood or severed our connection to nature. And it certainly doesn’t suggest that we take lessons on raising teenagers from hyenas, though that might not be such a bad idea.

    Instead, “Wildhood” is a contemplation of how we are like, and unlike, other animals, using the widespread phenomenon of adolescence as an anchor. And make no mistake: Adolescence, the process of becoming an adult, is a distinct phase of existence, seen in animals as different as penguins and crocodiles. It is not, as sometimes has been suggested, a recent artifact of complex Western societies that encourage people to linger in their parents’ basements playing videogames.

    Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, a professor of medicine at UCLA who also teaches evolutionary biology at Harvard, and her co-author, science journalist Kathryn Bowers, make the crucial distinction between growing older—an inevitable consequence of the passage of time—and growing up. The latter requires a complex transformation of brain and body that isn’t instantaneous or easy, or even predictable, whether in humans or other species … Successfully navigating adolescence means learning how to do all the things adults need to do to survive and reproduce, some of which are really, really hard.

    “Wildhood” covers several of those flashpoints of adolescence, from sex to social status. Much of growing up is risky, and one of the most interesting parts of the book focuses on the risks of predation for both predators and prey. It’s easy for modern humans to forget that not becoming someone else’s meal is a daunting task, and one at which many young animals fail …” End Quote

    For more on this fascinating and timely book see:

  3. If there is now, as I suspect, a bureaucratic structure in place to combat “rape” it will have zero incentive to actually solve the problem and put itself out of business.

  4. There’s a bit over 20,000 students at UVA. So, 28 reported rapes would equate to about 140 reported rapes per 100,000 people. 2017 Virginia wide crime statistics show 5,442 forcible sex offenses which includes forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling. That work out to 66 per 100,000.

    If, and it’s a big if, UVA defines rape the same way Virginia defines forcible sex offenses then I’d say UVA has quite a problem.

    However, digging deeper into the state data … there were 83 instances of forcible sex offenses reported at the location of “school / college”. That would mean UVA saw over 1/3rd of all the rapes or forcible sex offenses at schools / colleges in Virginia. Again, a terrible proportion.

    But, are we comparing like things with regard to the definitions?

    • In order to compare the UVa population to the general population, one needs to adjust for age. The UVa population consists disproportionately of people at the age of peak sexual activity. Once that adjustment is made, the disparity would shrink considerably.

      I’m not sure how one would adjust for the prevalence of drunken hook-up culture.

    • Thanks for raising that, Don. Namely,

      “2017 Virginia wide crime statistics show 5,442 forcible sex offenses which includes forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object and forcible fondling.”

      I suspect, going deeper, we will find the reporting standards presumably from the state and local police to be very much different from UVA reporting standards. Also likely UVA has a reporting population, for a variety of reasons, as history makes clear, call it hysteria factor for lack of better term. Like Lift says, build it and they will come. This does not deprecate the problem.

  5. Sexual assault is and needs to be a serious crime. The elements are spelled out in the statutes. An allegation needs to be made to the police, who need to investigate it and, when supported by credible evidence that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecuted by the commonwealth attorney. Allegations that don’t meet this standard should not be prosecuted. But, of course, a claimant can always file a civil action in court for assault. In any event, there needs to be evidence. He says, she says, is very hard to decide fairly.

    Unless a university has prosecutorial authority under statute, this belongs to the police and commonwealth attorney. The idea that institutions of higher education should investigate, try and punish these allegations is more garbage law from the Obama crowd. Many colleges that have done this, often without giving males alleged to have committed sexual assault due process rights, wind up paying those very same males big damage awards.

  6. TMT says : The idea that institutions of higher education should investigate, try and punish these allegations is more garbage law from the Obama crowd.”

    This initiative of the Obama / Biden administration to win female votes in presidential elections by creating the fake illusion of a rape epidemic on America’s college and university campuses has done long lasting and incalculable harm to American society. It pitted young men and women against one other, ginning up fear and hate between the sexes for political advantage. Its results were frightening. Obama and Biden’s scare tactics sent campuses all over the country into hysteria. It was a key generator of the Jackie debacle at UVA, for example, as shown here on Bacon’s Rebellion. This is a classic example of the great harm that unethical politicians can inflict on American society with today’s instant communication as illustrated in blazing colors on TV for past four years.

    The damages and costs are manifold, for example:

    “Recall that President Obama and Vice President Bidden in early 2014 in the Blue Room of the White House called for the nations universities to replace the jurisdiction of state and local courts and state and local law enforcement agencies with altogether new University appointed and University run Title 1X lawmaking, policing, investigating, trial, and punishment of student sexual activities in violation of altogether new and novel federal and university interpretations of Title 1X.

    This was a gross usurpation of student rights, and of state and local powers and prerogatives. This was also a gross and unworkable imposition of functions and related burdens on Universities, including the exorbitant costs to build and operate totally unworkable and unconstitutional systems, and to payoff in large sums plaintiffs lawsuits that were forced upon universities if only to avoid trial on these miscarriages of justice and their attendant bad publicity.

    The residue, legacy, and ongoing costs of this horrible and politically motivated jihad on university students should be stripped out of future UVA operations and budgets.”


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