An ‘off-the-cuff’ response
To the editor:
Your language, graphics and overall message in the article, “On-campus sex offenses rose in 2011, despite decrease in crime overall” (10/11/2012) provided misleading information to your readers and left me deeply disappointed. Sexual assault is a pervasive problem on all college campuses, including Wash. U., and your readers deserve an accurate accounting of this serious crime.
The article stated that eight sexual assault reports were made to Washington University officials in 2011 and went on to say that “[t]he numbers reflect incidents reported to University officials, not necessarily ones proven to have occurred.” This wording suggests that these numbers may be inflated while, in fact, there were likely many more assaults against Wash. U. students, given the overall incidence of sexual assault at one in four or five college women over their college careers. Additionally, very few sexual assault cases are fabricated; the FBI estimates the incidence of false reports at less than 2 percent.
The graphic was equally troubling. The use of handcuffs associates campus sexual assault with extreme aggression and visible violence, despite the fact that many assaults occur while the survivor is incapacitated. The male and female signs on the ends of the handcuffs suggest that all assaults occur between one man and one woman while assaults can be perpetrated by people of any gender and be against people of any gender, and multiple assailants may be present.
I hope that your future reporting on this issue reflects the reality of sexual assault on our campus. For accurate and up-to-date information on sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, I recommend all students, faculty and staff visit care.wustl.edu, a website dedicated to these issues.
Lauren Weiss and Joanie Steffen
Lauren is a student in the Brown School of Social Work and a co-chair of Violence Against Women Awareness (VAWA). Joanie is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2014 and a co-president of Community Organized for Rape Education (CORE).