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Professor: Epidemic of Campus Sexual Assault at UMich... Has Been Shrinking For a Decade

Sexual assault at U-M has declined notably and in line with national statistics, casting doubt on the left's characterization of the problem as an "epidemic."

University of MichiganWikimedia CommonsOver at the American Enterprise Institute's blog, AEI scholar and professor of economics Mark Perry crunches the numbers on instances of sexual assault at the main University of Michigan campus (Perry teaches at the sister campus in Flint).

His determination? Sexual assault at U-M has declined notably and in line with national statistics, casting doubt on the left's characterization of the problem as an "epidemic." From the blog

There’s been a lot of attention paid recently to the issue of “campus sexual assaults” and some of the media including the Washington Post and MSNBC have referred to it as an “epidemic.” Doesn’t the term “epidemic” suggest that there is a widespread and growing number of campus sexual assaults? If so, the crime data from at least one major college campus — the University of Michigan — don’t support the term “epidemic” and in fact suggest the exact opposite – a declining trend in sexual assaults, both on and off campus, and for assaults reported to both police and university offices.

The chart above shows the annual number of sexual assaults at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor from their annual crimes reports, like this most recent one. It should be noted that the UM crime reports include sexual assaults that took place: a) on-campus, b) off campus (including out of state) and c) on public property. Further, it includes sexual assaults reported to: a) the University of Michigan Campus Police Department, b) other police departments and c) non-police organizations like the UM Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. Therefore, it’s a pretty comprehensive report that covers off-campus sexual assaults andassaults not reported to campus police, but to another police department or to a university office or official – in contrast to some universities that  apparently only report sexual assaults on campus and only to the campus police.

As the chart above shows, the number of “campus” sexual assaults at UM has been trending downward for the last decade, and in 2012 (most recent year available) the number of sexual assaults (34) was about half the numbers in 2004 (64), 2005 (65) and 2006 (65).

Perry is keenly aware that U-M is just one school—maybe sexual assault has declined in Ann Arbor, but nowhere else. However, the survey most commonly cited by those who insist that sexual assault is a rising epidemic was conducted at just two campuses, he notes:

I realize that this is just one campus, and I’ll research others as time allows (there is no central database for campus crime reports, each year’s report has to be accessed individually), but how could that trend at UM possibly be described as an “epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.” Also, it could be noted that the “1-in-5 women are sexually assaulted while in college” was based on a survey of students at only two universities, and extrapolated to the entire country.

Sexual assault is notoriously underreported, and it's certainly not wrong for universities to work toward an even greater reduction of rape. But the trend in the data suggests people should be optimistic that improvement is possible—because it's already happening—rather than pessimistic that things are getting worse.

Hat tip: The College Fix

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Do the squirrels let us post?

    Yay!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    "puff puff pass man. You're fucking up the narrative."

  • Harun||

    Look, we need to create new victim classes and we're running on fumes here, mmmkay.

    So just let us create a narrative that women are totally being oppressed so we can get our grants, our quotas, and our politicians elected.

  • Sigivald||

    As I think Glenn Reynolds put it, roughly, "Universities assert that they're bastions of racism and sexual assault that everyone has a right to attend".

    Maybe college being too expensive is saving people from ill-defined sexual assaults?

  • Rich||

    the “1-in-5 women are sexually assaulted while in college” was based on a survey of students at only two universities

    So, it's entirely possible that the truth is 4-in-5. Calling it an epidemic understates the problem!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And do those numbers even take into account STEVE SMITH?

  • Rasilio||

    Highly unlikely.

    With just 65 sexual assaults reported even if that is just 20% of the actual number you still only have 325 sexual assaults a year and 1300 in an y 4 year period.

    UMich Ann Arbor admits ~8000 female students per year giving them a female population of well north of 30,000.

    1300/30000 = 4.3% of female students having been the victim of sexual assault (a far broader category than just rape) and that assumes that all 325 reported sexual assault victims were female.

    Could the national rate be 4x what the rate is at UM-Ann Arbor? Maybe just barely, is it likely to be 20x higher? Hell no

  • Rich||

    So, you're saying it's entirely possible?

  • Sigivald||

    I assert that Rich was making a joke about the desire to assume everything is far worse than the data suggests, to make the most out of panic.

    At least, that's the most sensible interpretation.

  • Sevo||

    In 2011, it was the horrible US medical business that was so horrible people were migrating to England to stand in their lines. Those of us who said 'hold it' got over-run and now we have O-care fucking up the system.
    In 2013, it was the horrible 'income inequality' that was so horrible people were migrating to Venezuela to make sure they equally couldn't get paper to wipe their asses. Those of us who said 'hold it' haven't yet been over run, except in those places where too many black kids have jobs.
    Now it is the horrible sexual assault crisis that is so horrible people are migrating to, uh,...

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    India?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Indian women invent anti-rape jeans to battle attack epidemic...

    "Students Diksha Pathak, 21, and Anjali Srivastava, 23, of Varanasi designed a pair of red pants outfitted with a small electronic button that sends a distress call to the nearest police station when pressed. The signal acts as a tracker, so police can rush straight to the victim’s location."

    http://nypost.com/2014/06/26/r.....SocialFlow

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Canada, everybody knows the Canooks lack testosterone

  • Rasilio||

    "Sexual assault is notoriously underreported"

    Actually the extent to which it is under reported is greatly exaggerated.

    The problem with calculating "underreported" rapes is that many people will percieve themselves or portray themselves to be a victim when there is no cost (as in when taking a survey). However the fact that someone believes that they have been sexually assaulted does not make it true.

    Now this does not mean the purported victims are lying it means that there is a strong tendency after the fact to inflate the reality of what happened as a self defense mechanism.

    It is a safe bet to say that a significant percentage (somewhere between 10 and 30% would be my guess) of "victims" who report being sexually assaulted in a anonymous survey were not in fact victims of sexual assault but merely had a bad experience that they regretted and built up in their heads to be more than it was as a way of absolving themselves of responsibility.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It's a safe bet that there are a lot of people competing for victim status and the moral high ground it brings with it.

  • Zeb||

    I think I took one of those surveys once. And I think I might have been counted as a victim of something because as a teenager a friend tried to stick his dick in my ear once when he got stoned for the first time.
    I was into taking surveys at the time for some reason, so I just honestly answered their questions. But afterwards it occurred to me that I might have unwittingly become part of some scary sounding statistic.

  • PapayaSF||

    You did your part for the untold thousands of victims of ear rape.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    the “1-in-5 women are sexually assaulted while in college” was based on a survey of students at only two universities

    Holy crap, really? That major talking point is based on two universities and thus ignores mountains of confounding variables?

  • Dweebston||

    That's just one, and in my opinion the least, of that statistic's several problems (trigger warning: TIME magazine).

    the survey’s data for “drug- and/or alcohol-enabled sexual assault” (about 70% of the incidents in the study) lump together unconsciousness or incapacitation with intoxication that may cloud one’s judgment and affect consent. Notably, despite widespread sexual assault awareness programs, two-thirds of the college women whom the study counted as victims of drug- or alcohol-enabled rape did not think they were raped, and few felt they had suffered psychological harm.

    I have no issue whatsoever with the campaign advising men to understand when consent may not be forthcoming, and to behave accordingly. But the habit of shoveling blame onto the shoulders of similarly-impaired men while insisting the women bear no reciprocal responsibility is counterproductive and, frankly, deliberately malicious.

  • ||

    I went to college. At the time I thought it was what I wanted, but then later I regretted the whole thing. It's hard for me to talk about it, but I believe both OSU and ASU raped my bank account. And they did it while the federal government was standing there, egging them on. I feel so dirty and ashamed.

  • Dweebston||

    Trigger warning much?

    Come on, man, some of us have bank accounts, too!

  • ||

    some of the media including the Washington Post and MSNBC have referred to it as an “epidemic.”

    they misspelled "fantasy"

  • GILMORE||

    "there is no central database for campus crime reports"

    Really?

    http://ope.ed.gov/security/Index.aspx

    Because we spend do millions of dollars on stuff like this. I have noted previously exactly how shoddy the actual #s are, and the breadth of what they include as qualifying as a 'report', sans any actual documentation that any crime ever occurred. But - to the data =

    " This analysis cutting tool was designed to provide rapid customized reports for public inquiries relating to campus crime and fire data. The data are drawn from the OPE Campus Safety and Security Statistics website database .... required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act."

    The data are indicative of nothing other than the increasing frequency with which schools are contributing 'data' to the system. What the data means is *up for interpretation* to say the least...

    e.g. "mom called and said her daughter told her about something happening - report it!"

    http://www2.ed.gov/campus-crim....._p_03.html

    The number of 'reports per incident' are pointedly ignored, and the incident is not as important as the 'reporting' requirements.

  • JW||

    Sexual assault is notoriously underreported

    This is a non-falsifiable statement. Why even make it?

  • Rich||

    "Oh, very well. Sexual assault is underreported."

  • Coeus||

    Careful. You don't want to bring down the righteous fury of the fiercely intellectual Amanda Marcotte, do you?

  • GILMORE||

    Your body language is offending me.

  • Paul.||

    Will it continue to decline if we continue to define down sexual "assault"?

  • Horatio||

    I gave up rape for Lent. Now I hardly miss it.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Sexual assault at U-M has declined notably and in line with national statistics, casting doubt on the left's characterization of the problem as an "epidemic."

    The word "epidemic" has never legitimately appplied to anything other than highly contagious diseases to begin with.

    Anytime anyone starts throwing that word around in relation to something else, it's nothing more than BS propaganda.

  • Cyto||

    I have been over to Jezebel and other feminist sites of similar stripe. From this experience I can tell you that the officially approved response to your blog post is "that's exactly what a rapist would say". Followed by "shut up, rape apologist".

    Just so you don't have to waste your time hunting around for your obligatory shaming. Oh, and the rest of you rabble.... rapists all around. Stop being a part of the rape culture, you bunch of rape apologists.

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