Lately, the media has been abuzz about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. And the opinions run the gamut, from:

  •  George Will’s article lamenting that college campuses have created a culture where by educating  students to the subtle nuances of ‘micro-aggressions’,  they’ve created a culture “where victimhood [is]a coveted status that confers privileges, [and]victims proliferate.” , to
  • Lisa Sendrow, whose rape experience Will belittled in his article, who claims that it’s ‘grotesque’ opinions like those expressed by Will  that prevent victims from disclosing, to
  • Ross Douthat’s NY Times article suggesting that our focus on after the assault judgments is faulty; why not try to change the college culture that contributes to binge drinking and sexual licentiousness…even though, he asserts, “we’re not ready for that”, to
  • James Marsh who sidesteps the emotional rollercoaster of other opinion  articles and provides  a legal interpretation about consent that , “Why College Drunk Sex = Rape”

While the opinions are dizzying, one thing is clear. Sexual violence is a significant issue on college campuses across the country. Some  folks think that false reporting of sexual assault is rampant, but studies show that the rate of false reports to police is about 2%… consistent with false reports of other crimes.  

Campus sexual violence affects freshmen and sophomores disproportionately,  84% of women experiencing sexually coercive experiences had these incidents during their first four semesters on campus. There’s even a name for the period between freshman orientation and Thanksgiivng  break- the Red Zone– because of the heightened risk of sexual assault in the first months of college life. At freshman orientation colleges address the issue (some schools even recommend that each party signs a mutual consent agreement prior to sex.) Yet one in four college women are sexually assaulted. The vast majority, 84%, of college rape victims know their assailant. We need to do more. Not just to provide services for victims or to educate students about rape… but to address the cultural and environmental factors that contribute to sexual violence on campuses… so we can focus on learning.