Several of the most respected universities have some of the highest rates of sexual assault by force or incapacitation for undergraduate women. (Photo: Getty Images)
A new survey commissioned by the Association of American Universities (AAU) found that 27.2 percent of female college seniors report having had some kind of unwanted sexual contact while incapacitated by drugs or alcohol or by force since beginning their college careers.
A startling 13.5 percent reported penetration, attempted penetration, or oral sex.
This spring, a study released in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 18.6 percent of college women are victims of rape or attempted rape by the end of their freshman year, with that number rising to 26 percent for incapacitated rape and 22 percent for forcible rate by the beginning of their sophomore year.
The New York Times reports that most of the institutions included in the AAU study released their own figures from the survey; “several of the most respected ones had some of the highest rates of sexual assault by force or incapacitation for undergraduate women — 34.6 percent at Yale, 34.3 percent at the University of Michigan, and 29.2 percent at Harvard.”
Colleges, particularly ‘elite’ institutions, attract some of the most privileged students in the country. “That privilege sometimes breeds a certain arrogance and entitlement, whether to a desired grade in the classroom, or to women’s bodies,” Know Your IX co-founder Dana Bolger told Yahoo Health.
The Journal of Adolescent Health study’s lead author, Kate Carey, PhD, and a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University’s School of Public Health, told Yahoo Health, “Parents, educators, coaches, and other influential adults all have a role to play in educating boys and girls about health relationships and mutual respect. Sex health education should go beyond the plumbing and address healthy relationships. Role modeling by adult males is needed. Calling out misogynous language and exploitive marketing is needed.”
When it comes to incapacitated rape, Sharyn Potter, MPH, PhD, an associate professor of sociology and the co-director of Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire notes that there are often many points before an act of sexual assault occurs that bystanders have the ability to intervene. “When they saw this woman being served alcohol, when they saw her being led away. They could have turned the lights on, pulled the music, and said, ‘Don’t give her any more to drink,” she told Yahoo Health.
Michael Kimmel, PhD, the distinguished professor of sociology at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and the executive director of the university’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, explained to Yahoo Health, “You have to think about what it takes to think that this is all just harmless fun in this case since the woman was unconscious. Having sex, even on their terms [that is, seeing such assaults as “just sex” as opposed to rape] — just having sex with and not even raping someone who is unconscious — that is closer to necrophilia than making love.”
“We’re not talking about men assaulting women, but the silence of some men enabling the predatory behavior of others,” added Kimmel.