There is a statistic that says 1 in 5 women on college campuses are raped. It is a claim that is, at the very least, startling. I mean think about that. If you are a woman in college, there is a 20% chance you would be raped during the 4 years (or more) that you spend on a college campus. With a rate that high, should we not expect a flurry of news reports shedding light on the rape epidemic on campus? We should, but we have seen no such thing happen. So then, where on Earth did this claim come from and is there any truth to it?
In 2007, Christopher Krebs and Christine Lindquist conducted the “Campus Sexual Assault Study,” a study that brought about the claim that “1 in 5 women on college campuses in the US has been sexually assaulted or raped.” A claim that themselves said would be “inappropriate to use the number as a baseline when discussing rape and sexual assault on campus”. They also mentioned that their findings are not nationally representative as they were only representative of the senior undergraduate women at two universities.
Their words on the use of these statistics were released back in 2014. So why would I bring up old news? Well the answer is simple, truth matters. Even if it is something we don’t want to hear.
This statistic used in an untrue way has helped to fuel the idea that college campuses are “rape cultures.” Because the initial evidence was incorrectly used, one must consider the truth within the conclusion. Are college campuses really “rape cultures?”
This answer depends on what people define a “rape culture.” Now I understand, there have been several definitions created to mean something other than what you would typically expect the words ‘rape’ and ‘culture’ to mean. But for sake of understanding, I will define it as a societal norm, behavior, or expectation that views unlawful sexual intercourse with or without force, without the consent of the victim to be acceptable.
Rape cultures exist, but not at Sam Houston State University. Nowhere on campus can you find droves of people that approve of, and promote the rape of other people, nor can you find a massive uptick in rapes either.
Calling a college campus a rape culture when no such thing exists reminds me of “the boy who cried wolf”. There comes a point where if you are constantly ringing the bell about a rape culture on campus, no one will listen. So if there comes a time where such a culture actually develops then who will listen? Who then is truly hurt?
If your goal is to shed light on that horrendous act and possible subsequent effects, then make sure it is an honest one. The only people that are hurt by arguments that are found in mistruths are the very people you are trying to help.