Yale University has been in the news for less than flattering reasons that cast into doubt how serious the Ivy League school, and universities in general, are about addressing sex crimes and making their campuses a safe and welcoming environment for women. Yale Could Just Say No to Covering Up Rape is the title of an recent essay by New School history professor Clare Potter about a recent report about sex crimes at Yale.
Potter writes that Yale is “sobered” by the statistics: In an email to the University community, Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler wrote that, from July -December 2011, 29 undergraduates brought sexual misconduct complaints to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, Yale’s Title IX Coordinators and the Yale Police Department.
Noting that she is — who wouldn’t be? — “sobered” too, Potter (a Yale alumna) writes that those numbers are rather low:
I have never seen a campus committee work so efficiently to cover up sex crimes on campus. Out of 5,000 students, that would make the rate of “sexual misconduct” — which includes a lot of noxious, sexist and violent behaviors that are not felony rape — at .0058. This would put Yale so far below other estimates of the frequency of felony rape on college campuses that I would like to suggest they send they report to the Department of Justice with a laugh track. This report from the DOJ in December 2000 estimated that a campus should expect 350 rapes for every 10,000 women. Roger Williams College goes with the conventional number, which is that one in four women will be sexually assaulted before they graduate.
The 29 cases were all heard by a campus disciplinary committee and were voluntarily reported. Many of the rape cases were “found not to be substantial enough to pursue further because the victim was incapacitated at the time and could not provide a clear account of the alleged crime,” says Potter. But in the case in which the committee found that crimes had occurred, the student (a male student) was given a “sentence” of a one-semester suspension for assault, battery, stalking and forced sex. In a case in which a Yale student made an “informal complaint” that a male student had “nonconsensual sex” with her, the accused student was simply (says the Yale report) “counseled … on appropriate conduct” and restrictions were “imposed… on contact between the parties.”
Rhodes Scholarship Controversy
A recent controversy about a Yale quarterback further suggests that the university has a very long way to go about reporting sex crimes.
Photo of student on the Yale campus by Adam Solomon
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