Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blind Committees, Bad Advice

President Richard H. Brodhead Statement on Committee Reports: "Committees examined lacrosse program, university disciplinary processes"

Look at this list of comittees:

Presidential Council
Investigation of Duke Administration Response
Investigation of Men's Lacrosse (May 1 Report)
Examination of Student Judicial Process and Practices (May 1 Report)
Campus Culture Initiative

What's missing? There is absolutely no mention of rape as a campus problem. No mention of violent crimes at all. No mention of the reporting, or tracking, or dissemination of information on violent crime. No mention of gang rape in particular. My guess, based on victim surveys, is that

What have the committees so far reporting determined? Well, the Lacrosse committee found that the team was worse than most teams, but that was no reason to dump the program.

The committee examining university disciplinary processes found that alcohol is a big issue and that nobody knows what's going on off-campus. They didn't say anything about the biggest problem:

the increased risk of rape when allmale groups (such as athletes and fraternity members) live together in houses with private rooms, where parties are frequent, and where alcohol is available

It's all a tremendous load of blathering. Developing policies, implementing mechanisms, stakeholders, blah, blah, blah, it's all PR. None of it means anything.

What should be in there? An acknowledgement that this isn't about one team at one school at one time. This is a single representation of a national problem. By breaking the inquiry up into seven different committees, Duke doesn't have to address the only real topic: Sexual assault is the most common violent crime on campus.

What I want to know is: how many students (or others) have been sexually assaulted on campus or in off-campus Duke locations? What is Duke doing about it?

Good luck finding any useful information. Duke reported 8 sexual offenses for 2004. My guess, based on victim surveys, is that rather more people sought assistance from Sexual Assault Support Service or the Durham Crisis Support Center than the reported number suggests.

Eight? Really? How many people did you know of in college who had been assaulted?

Update: "Duke treats up to 90 people a year who have been sexually assaulted" reported in Nov. of 1999, upon the opening of a dedicated treatment room for victims of sexual assault. Obviously, not all of those treated were students.

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