Wednesday, April 30, 2014

COTWA supports the effort to include sexual-assault stats in U.S. News & World Report college rankings

Some members of Congress want the venerable magazine U.S. News & World Report to start ranking colleges on the number of sexual assaults reported and by how well they prevent and respond to those assaults.  COTWA supports this effort because it should lead to at least two positive effects: (1) college administrators will get more serious about stamping out sexual assault, and especially the conditions that breed sexual assault (primarily the unchecked abuse of alcohol on campus), and (2) college administrators will hold the sexual assault number-crunchers accountable for their numbers.

The first point should not be controversial to any sane and rational person. Let's focus on the second point. At present, it is all-too easy for college administrators to pay lip-service to the problem of sexual assault on college campuses in general. If the iconic magazine were to start singling out colleges specifically, college administrators will have a financial interest in making sure the numbers are accurate. They are not likely to sit still if U.S. News & World Report tosses out phony numbers that make it appear rape is rampant on their campuses if it isn't.

At present, many believe that the studies on college sexual assault are largely driven by ideology. And, truth be told, it is doubtful that many people aside from gender ideologues take the stats very seriously. When it comes to the sexual assault of women, the stats make college campuses seem like "The Purge" all year round.  Do parents really think there is a 25% chance that their daughters will be sexually assaulted in college? That's not likely.

If the numbers are, in fact, accurate, then college administrators will have a difficult time hiding the truth, given the current climate where the Department of Education is watching schools closely on how they handle sexual assault claims. If the numbers are not accurate, then the college will have a financial interest, and the financial resources, to debunk the numbers.

That's the bottom line: at present, there is no one -- repeat, no one --  with a strong financial interest in debunking the claim that rape is rampant on college campuses. If  U.S. News & World Report starts to unfairly paint colleges as rape pits where a quarter of the women are assaulted, the colleges that are unfairly stigmatized will fight back. For the first time, there will be some accountability for the numbers being tossed out.