Why 89% Of Colleges Reporting No Sexual Assaults Is A Bad Thing

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Contradicting the reality of campus sexual assault, nearly 90% of colleges reported zero incidents of rape in 2015, according to data newly released by the U.S. Department of Education.

About 11,000 institutions disclosed their most recent annual crime reports, as required by the Clery Act. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) then analyzed the data and found that 89% of colleges disclosed zero reports of rape.

While so many schools reporting so few rapes may sound like something to celebrate, Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations at AAUW, says the finding is actually troubling.

“It does not present the reality in terms of what we know to be happening, based on research, based on school climate surveys, based on student reports,” Maatz tells Teen Vogue. “If we know sexual assault is happening, which we do, and so many colleges are reporting zero instances of rape, then it suggests that students are not reporting when they are raped. That’s the issue, and that’s the thing that makes us scratch our heads and be most concerned. What is it about the systems that schools have in place that is leading to students not coming forward to report?”

Colleges similarly reported few incidents of dating violence and stalking. Only 9% of schools disclosed reports of domestic violence and about 13% disclosed reports of stalking. Those schools that disclosed reports of rape were typically also the schools that disclosed reports of other kinds of violence, the AAUW report noted, suggesting that “some schools have built the necessary systems to welcome and handle reports, support survivors, and disclose accurate statistics — and others have not.”

The Clery data bears little resemblance to prominent research about sexual assault, as well as climate surveys on individual campuses. In 2015, the Association of American Universities surveyed 27 institutions and found that nearly one-quarter of female undergraduate students said they had experienced a sexual assault of some kind, bolstering the oft-cited statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. A national survey conducted that same year by The Washington Post and Kaiser found similar rates, as did campus climate surveys at institutions such as Rutgers University and the University of Michigan.

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