‘Overbroad Definitions of Sexual Assault are Deeply Counter-Productive’ by Jed Rubenfeld


RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, recently cited evidence that over 90% of college rapes are committed by just 3% of college men, each raping multiple victims. Campus rape, RAINN concludes, is not caused by a “rape culture.” It is overwhelmingly caused by a small percentage of men who remain on campus, escaping punishment, even as they rape over and over.

Why do so many college rapes go unreported – 88%, according to a 2007 nationwide study – or, even when reported, unpunished?

The dirty secret is that universities have a conflict of interest when a student reports being raped. Campus rape is bad publicity – very bad. Just ask Dartmouth, where applications dropped 14% last year amid claims of campus sexual assault and abusive hazing. On top of that, disciplining a student for rape can get you sued, whereas, until recently, failing to do so could not. It’s no surprise, then, to hear allegations that at colleges around the country, administrators have hushed up rape accusations; discouraged students from reporting; treated rape claimants badly; and repeatedly failed to punish where punishment was due.

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