• Fri, Jan 18 2013

University Of North Carolina Dean Reveals Pressure To Underreport Rape

university-of-north-carolina

Ready to be depressed (though probably not shocked, which is depressing in and of itself)? The assistant dean of the University of North Carolina has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against UNC alleging that the school pressured her to underreported rape cases. Considering how rampant sexual assault is in colleges, it is unsurprising that schools would want to lower their statistics of rape occurances. Of course, you would assume that they might try something like, oh, preventing rapes from happening, but lying about it is almost like that, right? Right?

Except, obviously it isn’t, and according to the complaint, UNC attempted to do just that. Assistant dean Melinda Manning, as well as three students and one former student, allege that in 2011, the University Counsel’s office pressured Manning to underreport sexual assault cases.

The complaint alleges Manning was told by the University Counsel’s office that the number of sexual assault cases she compiled for 2010 was “too high” before the total was decreased by three cases without her knowledge; that she was made the victim of a hostile work environment in the dean of students office; and that her efforts to reform the University’s handling of sexual assault cases were stymied more than once by higher administrators.

Three cases. Three people’s lives who were already horribly effected left further violated by a university’s desire to improve their image. Three incidents where rapists were not brought to justice, nor even attention.

Manning states that she was intimidated because of her desire to change the rape culture on campus and help students who had been assaulted find help, and that she had been discriminated against for having a young child at home — a blatantly sexist notion.

And UNC isn’t the only college with this problem: the Clery Act, which requires campuses to report crime statistics to the government, holds a maximum fine of $35,000 per violation of not reporting an incident, but according to executive director of the Student Press Law Center Frank Lamonte, universities still don’t report all the facts.

“Nationally, there’s no question that Clery Act crime statistics all across the board look suspiciously low. I would say it’s rare that you see direct evidence that people intentionally manipulate the numbers. And these are just accusations, obviously.

“The fact is there’s enough confusion and misunderstanding about how Clery works that you’re never certain whether the understatement is intentional or accidental.  I tend to suspect it’s intentional because it’s not all that confusing.”

If rape on campus is going to change, then that means the administrations themselves will have to change, particularly in how they treat victims and cases. By disregarding them as important, they’re sending a message to all survivors that their rapes don’t matter, as well as letting rapists know that they won’t be punished. Until that message changes, the culture will stay the same.

Photo: Analogophile / Flickr

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  • Robert Sanchez

    Amanda Marcotte deserves to die.