Violence against women on campus - or not?
Rampant reports of rape and violence against women on our college campuses continue to headline the national news. While rape remains a horrific crime, my limited exposure to reports of violence against women on campus makes me seriously doubt Joe Biden’s claim that twenty percent of women have been assaulted while attending college.
More than a few years ago, my wife, my teenage daughter and I set out on that most American of rituals, visiting colleges in search of that perfect school. We were on the East Coast swing looking at Bryn Mar, Hamilton, Colgate, Vassar, Yale and Barnard. There is a method to this process, which starts by visiting the Admission office on each campus, listening to 15 minute welcoming speech, taking a 90 minutes walking tour of the school, and then talking, off the record, to some actual students to get the real low down on academics, drugs and drinking, and the social mix.
At our last stop at Barnard, while waiting for the tour to begin, I noticed a hand made poster in the hallway. It showed a stark black and white photo of a co-ed, in distress, crying and scared. Underneath it said, “There are 8 rapes a week on campus, don’t become a victim.” I looked closely at the poster, which also had a small stamp of approval from the college, and a date of removal in the lower corner.
Let’s see, eight rapes a week, in student body of 2,100 women, wow, that’s a real crime wave. When the tour started, I asked our young tour guide about the poster. Was it true were there were really eight rapes a week on campus? She became very flustered, and said she would check with the Admissions office at the end of tour. During the tour, she was on her cell phone a lot, while looking at me. Soon we were joined by four other older women on the tour, who I later found out were college administrators. Other parents had also heard my question, and were discussing the poster’s message during the tour.
The tour arrived back at the Admissions office and we were asked to be seated. A woman, who introduced herself as one of the Dean’s of the College asked if I was the one who started the rumor about eight rapes a week on campus. I stood up and said I was just reading the poster in hall, and asked if it was true. She replied there was no poster like that on the wall outside the Admissions office.
“Well”, I said, “I have my own photo of the poster, and everyone on the tour saw the poster. “ She quickly demanded I give her my camera. I said no. This seemed to upset her.
Than, after a ten-minute huddle with the other administrators, she announced to our tour group that the eight-rapes a-week were not sexual in nature. They were “intellectual rapes” of the female students by male professors who did not respects the student’s views on feminism in the course of their classroom studies.
I then asked how many sexual rapes occurred on campus during the past few years. And the Dean said two in last three years. She concluded by saying Barnard was a very safe place to send our daughters.
Not surprisingly our daughter attended an undergraduate university over 1,000 miles from Morningside Heights and New York.