This post can also be found at Students Advocating for Students.
If you are a college student, then you have most likely heard the following statistic: one in five women will be a target of sexual assault while in college. While multiple national surveys have concluded the above statistic, many Title IX pundits have found disputable evidence. Whether the statistic is true or false is of little importance to me. National averages can be very different from local realities. Take a look at UMass Amherst.This past week, CBS Boston posted an article detailing sexual assault on UMass Amherst’s campus. In the article, Becky Lockwood, the Associate Director of Counseling and Rape Crisis at UMass Amherst, expressed concerns that she has for her school regarding the academic year: “It sounds obvious, but [sexual assault] keeps happening. We haven’t as a culture committed to eradicating [sexual assault]. Research indicates one in five women will be sexually assaulted during their college experience.”
When a veteran Associate Director of Counseling and Rape Crisis describes a problem on campus as needing to be eradicated by a change of culture, there must be an inordinate amount of problems occurring on UMass Amherst’s campus. Despite Lockwood’s invocation of the oft cited one in five statistic, her concerns do not seem to match UMass Amherst’s own personal statistics.
According to UMass Amherst’s latest Annual Security Report (ASR), Lockwood’s claim that 20% of women are being sexually assaulted on her campus is utterly asinine. In 2014, the last publicly detailed academic year in the school’s ASR, there are only 24 cases of sexual assault listed involving members of the school’s community. Assuming all 24 cases involved victims that were women, that leaves an average of less than 1% of women being assaulted at UMass Amherst in their most recent reports. While many people claim that sexual assault is highly underreported, there would have to be over 2,000 non-reported sexual assaults on UMass Amherst’s campus, in 2014 alone, for Lockwood’s statement to have any relevance for her school.
Over-exaggerating problems does not do anything to solve the issues that actually do persist on campuses. Whether there are 100 reports of sexual assault or simply one, all such cases must be taken with the utmost seriousness and be given high levels of attention. Falsely projecting statistics upon your campus and ginning up hysteria through local media does not solve anything. Shame on UMass Amherst and CBS Boston for not accurately reporting on their communities.