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Questioning College Rape Epidemic Could Get You Fired

Resident assistants at Fordham University at Rose Hill want no part of a skeptical narrative.

Christopher Rodgers is paying dearly for challenging the conviction among some of the students at Fordham University's Rose Hill campus that there is an epidemic of rape on America's college campuses.

The ironies are rich. Anastasia Coleman, Fordham's Title IX coordinator, is investigating Rodgers, her deputy Title IX coordinator and dean of students, after resident assistants (RAs) said they were brought to tears by a video questioning the basis for the claim that sexual assault is out of control in college. (Coleman has not responded to email requests for comment.)

Rodgers showed two videos during an RA training session Aug. 18 which he said represented competing political narratives about campus sexual assault. Representing the view of the left, Rodgers showed a trailer of The Hunting Ground, a problematic documentary that has come under heavy fire from Reason, Slate's Emily Yoffe and others.

When he showed a PragerU video, "Are 1 in 5 Women Raped in College?" that challenges the methodology of the Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study most frequently cited by rape epidemic believers, several of the RAs revolted.

One RA wrote that she found 10 women crying in the bathroom after the presentation, and that "it was inappropriate to be putting advocacy for victims in the context of political debate...politics has nothing to do with it."

RA Rowan Hornbeck, posted a scathing critique online. "Contextualizing advocacy for victims as a political agenda is backwards. By critiquing a documentary that exposed university coverups of improperly handled cases of sexual assault, Dean Rodgers is proving that he cares more about saving the reputation of the university rather than advocating for students." But what did Rodgers do wrong by presenting two competing narratives?

RA training was cancelled for the remainder of the day, although it has since resumed. Now, the offended RAs are calling for Rodgers' dismissal.

The methodology of both videos is problematic, warranting their showing for critique and discussion. But the students made no complaints about The Hunting Ground. As Reason's Robby Soave wrote, one of the documentary's central stories––the alleged sexual assault of Harvard student Kamilah Willingham––did not pass muster.

Willingham's story that her assailant, Brandon Winston, had drugged her, was false. She offered him cocaine, and they took it together. She alleged that a bloody condom found in the trash belonged to Winston, but DNA evidence ruled that out. There were huge inconsistencies in her story, which culminated in nineteen Harvard law professors denouncing the film for its shoddy representation of reality.

Another alleged victim, Erica Kinsman, claims she was given a spiked drink by her assailant. Toxicology reports refuted that––a crucial fact filmmakers left out.

A central premise suggests that serial predators run rampant on college campuses, but this claim rests on a 2002 study that wasn't actually about college students at all. Rape is not lurking in every alleyway, as The Hunting Ground would have you believe, nor is it as rare and overblown as PragerU claims.

The survey critiqued in the PragerU video was lambasted because it was anonymous, and no claims were verified. But part of the reason why assault data are unreliable is because they're hard to verify and report, and they're crimes that take place behind closed doors, away from witnesses.

The video also claims that "there's simply no evidence of a campus rape epidemic," but it's foolish to say college campuses aren't rife with sexual assault issues––when alcohol muddles one's ability to consent and hook-up culture is a given, bad situations result.

And sometimes, university administrations attempt to silence or strong-arm victims, presumably for public relations reasons. Despite a lack of balance, PragerU's video presents a useful perspective: that the statistics used by almost every major outlet and advocacy group wrongly simplify a very complicated story.

The existence of the videos is proof of how overly politicized rape on campus has become. When one-sided, victim-centric narratives are presented as immune to criticism, truth falls by the wayside. Similarly, stories downplaying the experiences of survivors don't present a full picture.

It's quite appropriate to show these videos during a training session for RAs who are being asked to guide students through difficult experiences, and should be expected to have the mental fortitude to handle tough topics.

Rather than call for Rodgers' dismissal, these Fordham students should be grateful he is willing to lead a conversation about the politicization of assault and how to separate truth from advocacy in these opposing narratives. That is, after all, the point of college––or at least it used to be.

Photo Credit: Chris Walker/TNS/Newscom

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  • Zeb||

    If someone pointing out that you may have been misinformed about the danger of being raped on campus brings you to the point of tears, you may not be cut out for the RA position.

  • Reformed Republican||

    You would think they would be happy to find out their risk of being raped is not as high as they thought it was.

  • lap83||

    maybe 2 of them were crying, and there were a couple of others looking at them... = "OMG so many, there must've been a nice big, conveniently round number like 10 at least!"

  • Zeb||

    Women always go to the bathroom in groups of 10.

  • lap83||

    true, but they do other things like apply makeup and talk about cute guys..not just cry

  • lap83||

    sometimes they even have to use the bathroom...and that would get pretty annoying if 10 other women were in there crying at the same time

  • MarkLastname||

    Is a person with Munchausen's happy to find out they aren't sick?

  • DFG||

    Nah, this is a prime opportunity to achieve victimhood. If they aren't really at risk of rape then they have to come up with a more difficult path to their goal. No wonder they were crying.

  • Sevo||

    "One RA wrote that she found 10 women crying in the bathroom after the presentation, and that "it was inappropriate to be putting advocacy for victims in the context of political debate...politics has nothing to do with it.""

    What a steaming pile of horseshit; it is nothing if NOT political.

  • BambiB||

    It could be made a lot less political with one simple change in the law: In any case where someone makes a demonstrably false claim of rape, that individual gets the maximum sentence that the accused could have received if found guilty. Many women claim rape for many reasons having nothing to do with rape. "Rape" is used as an excuse for everything from missing a final exam, to being late returning to post (as happened in an incident I know of at the Naval Training Center), to a way to divert anger from a jealous boyfriend. Would the number of false complaints decline if the women knew they were looking at a 10-year prison sentence?

    I think so.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    Misogyny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cyto||

    Would the number of false complaints decline if the women knew they were looking at a 10-year prison sentence?

    Maybe. But you know what would go to zero? The number of complaints that are recanted.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Someone saying "this is not about politics" is like a someone saying "I'm just a simple country lawyer" - be on your guard!

  • Mendelism||

    "I'm just a simple caveman."

  • Jerryskids||

    RA Rowan Hornbeck, posted a scathing critique online. "Contextualizing advocacy for victims as a political agenda is backwards. By critiquing a documentary that exposed university coverups of improperly handled cases of sexual assault, Dean Rodgers is proving that he cares more about saving the reputation of the university rather than advocating for students."

    Rowan Hornbeck is literally Hitler. Therefore, arguing that Rowan Hornbeck is not literally Hitler is literally arguing on behalf of Hitler. QED.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    "Rape is not lurking in every alleyway, as The Hunting Ground would have you believe, nor is it as rare and overblown as PragerU claims."

    OK, Goldilocks.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    But we can put it that way - staying sober and alert tends, simply as a statistical manner, to reduce the risk of rape - which doesn't make it legal to rape someone who's drunk or unaware - though of course that's how you'll be interpreted if you point out such things.

  • BambiB||

    Especially when being drunk is the excuse one uses to shed responsibility for a consensual act. Sober chicks looking to get fucked dodge all responsibility with claims of rape. Women who drink to buttress the claim simply provide themselves with a ready-made excuse why they're not responsible for anything.

  • lap83||

    One RA wrote that she found 10 women crying in the bathroom after the presentation

    I'll take things that never happened for 1000

  • ||

    The [pragerU] video also claims that "there's simply no evidence of a campus rape epidemic," but it's foolish to say college campuses aren't rife with sexual assault issues––
    ...
    The existence of the videos is proof of how overly politicized rape on campus has become.

    The article is as bad an equivocating 'Robby horse' as anything the master himself penned, to be sure.

  • Zeb||

    Seems like it would be worth trying to answer that question (or saying that no clear answer is available). Is there any evidence of a campus rape epidemic? I.e. is a person on an American college campus any more likely to be raped (using the same definition of rape in all cases) than in the country as a whole?

    Campuses may be rife with sexual assault issues, but that doesn't really answer the question.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    First we would need to define epidemic.

    Good luck with a consensus on that.

  • BambiB||

    If it saves even one pussy...

  • MarkLastname||

    It is actually consistently found that women in college are less likely to be sexually assaulted than comparably aged women not in college.

    Also Wolfe is just bringing in a red hereing by mentioning alcohol; two drunken people voluntarily having sex is no more assault than two sober people.

    There is no rape epidemic; vaccines don't cause autism. These are facts. The article's equivocation was pathetic. Even if Prager's take isn't impeccable, it is beyond doubt miles closer to the truth than the Hunting Ground.

  • Zeb||

    That's pretty much what I think of it. But I (like most people) only know what other people tell me about it.

  • Cyto||

    two drunken people voluntarily having sex is no more assault than two sober people.

    Uh.. yeah it is. You fail at SJW. A woman who is intoxicated - even a little bit - is incapable of providing enthusiastic consent. And that's what is required for sex to be not-rape.

    Consent must be enthusiastic. And sober. And specific to each act. Oh, and verbal. No "she was in to it" interpretations. You gotta ask: "I appreciate that you consented to my kissing your breasts... may I caress your inner thigh?" Anything less than a fully formed request being answered with an enthusiastic and clear "yes" means that it is rape.

    C'mon man.... that stuff ain't new. One hit off of a hard seltzer is enough to render all consent null and void.

  • p3orion||

    "Consent must be enthusiastic. And sober. And specific to each act. Oh, and verbal."

    Verbal? Psssht! Get it in writing, and notarized.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Is getting it on video ok or is it taboo too?

    This is getting so complicated that my hand is looking more and more sexy.

  • Longtobefree||

    Using video would be considered premeditation for the crime of revenge porn

  • MarkLastname||

    I actually prefer a radical version of 'qui tacit consenture videtur.' Every woman with duct tape over her mouth is consenting!

  • ||

    It is actually consistently found that women in college are less likely to be sexually assaulted than comparably aged women not in college.

    Well, and the notion that you have a campus-sized hotbed of rape and no other nearby or regional equivalent campus or neighborhood-sized region of similar or more grievous assault, murder, theft, drug abuse, etc. represents a mind-bending contortion of simultaneous legal efficacy and ineptitude, utter and complete but selective breakdown of scholastic administration, *and* a well-ordered and disciplined criminal element.

    Like all the vagrants from the wrong side of the track enroll at the university (consistently year-over-year), commit all the theft and regular assault on the wrong side of the tracks but, somehow, observe some code that mandates they rape on campus. Meanwhile, school officials and LEOs conspired or are indifferent to the fact that rape happens on campus while murder and theft, but not rape, happen on the wrong side of town.

    Saying it's foolish to say something without any evidence, while acknowledging the politicization of the cause/facts is like admitting that you believe the doomcock to be fictional but are pretty sure any investigation into the rape epidemic that occurs in Warty's basement isn't a fools errand.

    The narrative isn't just implausible, it's unbelievable/inconceivable. Come back with better evidence, a better narrative, or, preferably, both.

  • ||

    Whoops, didn't mean the above in reply. Threading fail, sry.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And sometimes, university administrations attempt to silence or strong-arm victims, presumably for public relations reasons

    By 'strong-arming' victims, you're talking about the falsely-accused?

  • BambiB||

    Undoubtedly.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Huh, just read the sign... if it's not just 'unacceptable behavior', but a crime, then we should have the police weigh the evidence and take the investigations and judgments out of the Title IX administrators' hands, no?

  • vcx||

    Bah? RA's are not trained for legal actions. The university in America is not the law unto itself. However, the laws in many states shield the previous actions by the accuser who might have a problem. The rush to judgment was a very bad idea. Especially when on a campus there will be a collision of values. One could say this train wreck could be seen coming.
    Title IX is supposed to be gender blind. Worse the origination was a law suit about athletic scholarships.

  • BambiB||

    Title IX is a pile of warmed over pig shit.
    The bottom line is: If women are really equal to men, there's no need for it.
    If they're not, then let's all admit that they are inferior to men.

  • p3orion||

    "...on a campus there will be a collision of values."

    Hence the rush to vilify anyone who disagrees fails to hew to the party line. Dissenters must be destroyed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's quite appropriate to show these videos during a training session for RAs who are being asked to guide students through difficult experiences, and should be expected to have the mental fortitude to handle tough topics.

    The girls just want to be empathized with, not RAsplained at.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    If these RAs actually gave a damn about rape victims, they'd want to know the truth. But no, they'd rather have The Narrative. And they have the gall to complain about politics?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Rape Epidemic Narrative: New at Reason

    Don't forget.
    Its rape if you look at women too, especially feminists.

  • Griffin3||

    If feminists look at women? Way to dykesplain, Uncle Jay.

  • GILMORE™||

    an epidemic of rape on America's college campuses.

    of course, that depends on your definition of "Epidemic"

    according to every "not-estimated" statistic known to man ...stats-collectors... American college students are sexually-assaulted far less frequently than their non-college peers. And overall sexual-assault and rape have been in decline for 3 decades.

  • Zeb||

    Of course, non-estimated stats probably leave out a good number of unreported incidents. But it seems pretty unlikely that rape goes unreported on campus at a higher rate than in the rest of the country.

  • GILMORE™||

    Of course, non-estimated stats probably leave out a good number of unreported incidents

    "a good number"

    Which is the loophole that idiots and activists use to simply make shit up.

    even if you assume only a percentage of crimes are reported, it doesn't affect that trendline, which has been headed south since the 1980s.

    And it also wouldn't affect the 30% difference between campus and non-campus rape - unless you have some reasonable basis to claim that students are far far less likely to report sex-crimes than non-students.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It seems that rapes on college campuses tend to get reported quite heavily, even when they didn't happen.

  • Zeb||

    And even then it's significantly lower than in the country as a whole.

    Of course, the numbers GILMORE links to are just what is reported to police, and don't include what is reported and investigated only as a possible title IX violation.

  • GILMORE™||

    as a possible title IX violation.

    most of which needn't even be crimes in the first place.

    re: what the numbers "don't include"...

    you don't need to believe that the BJS #s are representative of any total amount of sexual assault for them to offer 2 very clear take-aways, both of which i highlighted:

    1 - sexual assault (and rape) is declining, everywhere
    2 - both happen less-often to college kids than non-college kids.

    neither of those claims need to have anything to do with whether the #s are accurately reflecting the total-volume of sexual assault/rape; they simply reflect the growth trend of that category of crime (down, steeply, for a long time), and the fact that as far as 'risk-groups' go, college students are lower risk than rest of their age-group for that category of crime.

    as far as trying to measure 'all' sexual assault (e.g. reported and unreported)... i personally think its a fools errand, and think the way people routinely add fudge-numbers to public-stats, 'guesstimating' how many remain unreported, ends up burying/devaluing what little data we have that is useful.

    at the very least, i think the idea of a 'campus rape epidemic' should be dismissed as pure fantasy

  • MarkLastname||

    If I recall correctly, a few decades ago, the stats showed a steady increase in the frequency of reported rape, but it was almost certainly due to women reporting more than they had in earlier times. The trend abated and then reversed, with reports going down. It seems highly unlikely that this is due to reporting rates declining (we haven't culturally reverted back to 1800s since The Carter administration, to my knowledge). If reporting rates have remained stable or increased (which is likely) then the incidence of rape has declined. This is beyond dispute.

  • Cy||

    That makes sense, taking into account the lack of young males trying to get laid, dropping drastically since the advent of video gaming or at least their opportunity for getting laid decreasing.

  • GILMORE™||

    The video also claims that "there's simply no evidence of a campus rape epidemic,"

    There isn't. see above.

    but it's foolish to say college campuses aren't rife with sexual assault issues––when alcohol muddles one's ability to consent and hook-up culture is a given, bad situations result.

    No, its "foolish" to counter a demand for evidence with flimsy 'just-so' rationalizations..

    "Why, kids drink, and they've got hormones... bad situations *must* result!"

    yes, but those things are true for non-college students as well. Young people are young and do young things, which include drink, drugs, sex, and stupidity. This is neither an epidemic or even a 'problem' by any historical measure. Its called growing up and learning to behave responsibly. Its also foolish to dilute something as serious as "rape" down to some vaguely conceived "sexual assault issues"... which is what the CDC did under Obama, classifying everything from 'inappropriate touching' to 'unwanted voicemail messages' as Sexual Violence, helping to validate activist's claims that America was enduring a booming epidemic of sexual-bad-stuff.

    What's most foolish is trying to protect yourself from Social-Justice lynch mobs by pandering to their vanity and pretending that their dumbest arguments actually have merit.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's true that people are sometimes touched.

  • p3orion||

    It's the same thing his administration did with illegal alien deportations. He claimed to have deported more than any other president, but that was true (for a while) only because illegals being turned back at the border was for the first time included in the numbers.

    I have the highest IQ of any man in America (if I get to redefine what "IQ" means.)

  • Pea-Gee||

    The numbers of raped / assaulted women on campus, if you believe the lies, amounts to roughly 900 students who will file charges of rape/assault in the current year.

    ~7500 undergrads × (1/2 women) × (1/4 raped/assaulted) ~ 900 rapes/assaults/year.

    Do they really deal with this type of numbers at the university?

    I highly doubt it: there would have to be an entire wing of the school - at any school - If you believe these numbers, devoted to simply processing all of these complaints.

    I really doubt the truth is anywhere NEAR this number of students being raped/assaulted.

    Of course, they couldn' t possibly publish the truth as it would somehow violate these snowflake' s rights, yeah, that's the answer - hide the facts, & lie like a dog.

  • esteve7||

    Why are they going to the school anyway for a violent felony? That's what the government is for. These are adults, not children.

  • frankania||

    When I was in college, a girl from a nearby women's college touched my crotch at a school dance. Damn, I forgot to file a complaint! Later on, her dad loaned me his car for a weekend trip. The car was a rare sportscar==it was probably illegal, too!

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    What did you have to do to borrow the car the following weekend?

  • vcx||

    Politics and emotions are evil bedfellows.

  • GILMORE™||

    evil bedfellows.

    i'm reporting both of them to the Title IX dept

  • Incredulous||

    The author's equivocations are just wrong. The data is clear. There is no rape epidemic. Period. And the author fails to use proper terminology such as "alleged" victims and "alleged" survivors. Most of these allegations are never judged in a court of law and therefore deserve no credence. Most may be valid or most may be false. We just don't know. In fact, many of these supposed "victims" or survivors" may be viewed more appropriately as the assailant or perpetrator themselves. As for the "Hunting Ground," it's not a documentary but obscenely dishonest propaganda.

    Those who are attacking Rodgers for presenting balanced viewpoints on this issue are evil, arguably worse than rapists. They are pushing a war on men and normal human sexuality. They should all be expelled from the university. And the "investigation" of Mr. Rodgers is an obscenity equivalent to a witch trial. Unfortunately, truth and justice is turned on its head.

  • Incredulous||

    truth and justice "are turned on their heads"

  • Finrod||

    Thanks for letting me know that I need not bother interviewing anyone with a degree from Fordham. They go in the same pile as people with degrees from U Missouri and Evergreen State.

  • Longtobefree||

    I would think the person with the sign should call a cop if a crime has been committed, not wave a sign indicating that the constitution must be ignored to make that person feel better.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    The RAs are revolting!

    Well, duh ....

  • Gozer the Gozarian||

    As a Fordham alumnus and faculty member I am shocked to say the least.

    What the school should have done is remove all of the RAs from their responsibilities because clearly they cannot perform their duties. If they are incapable of having a diverse conversation about a very complex topic, how in the hell should they be expected to actually deal with diverse and complex issues as an RA? The correct course of action is to remove them all. They are not qualified.

  • damikesc||

    And sometimes, university administrations attempt to silence or strong-arm victims, presumably for public relations reasons. Despite a lack of balance, PragerU's video presents a useful perspective: that the statistics used by almost every major outlet and advocacy group wrongly simplify a very complicated story.

    A recitation of a student's claim is now proof that university's strong-arm "victims"?

    No question of IF she was raped, I note. We just assume she is telling the truth because co-eds have never lied about such things before, I guess.

    Reason's pathetic equivocating on this issue is laughable. Your "sorta" support for due process is duly noted.

  • damikesc||

    The methodology of both videos is problematic

    How?

    You cited two cases that were categorically and utterly different than portrayed in the movie.

    You took a comment from Prager's video that is factually accurate and, apparently, condemned it for not including all "sexual assault" in his comment that here is no rape epidemic.

    Simple question, Liz: If there actually WAS a rape epidemic, how horrendous is it to demand we send MORE women to college? Campuses are already majority female as is and, it seems, it is getting "worse".

    The existence of the videos is proof of how overly politicized rape on campus has become. When one-sided, victim-centric narratives are presented as immune to criticism, truth falls by the wayside. Similarly, stories downplaying the experiences of survivors don't present a full picture.

    I notice that the case you cited to "show" that university's "silence" victims that she, at no point, went to the POLICE over this alleged assault.

    You also didn't note:
    "Smith, the school's top ‎Title IX coordinator, agreed to reopen Carreras's case, ultimately bringing it to a hearing in October. The hearing board found the accused student not responsible for violating the sexual misconduct policy, documents show. It cited "varying witness testimonies" that made the board unable to "establish a clear timeline of events.""

    So, WHERE is the issue with the methodology of Prager's video?

  • Gozer the Gozarian||

    Campuses are already majority female

    WTF?

    Where the hell is the data to support this?

  • damikesc||

    It's been majority women for about 30 years now. It's not remotely hard to find the numbers. As of 2012, men were below 45% of students in colleges.

  • damikesc||

    Reading Reason, I would have to assume that college women are not capable of being treated like adults.

  • NateBlank||

    Liz you write like retard.

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