I came across a recent Huffington Post article while I was browsing Twitter and it was about a fraternity by the name of “Zeta Psi” being put on “Social Suspension.” Through reading this article I discovered a few things.
1) The Huffington Post really doesn’t understand the staggering claims they make.
2) They like to throw in insane stats about rape amid a rape allegation.
I have always had a problem with reporting like this. It is simply indicative of people trying to manufacture and distribute hysteria to you for just a few minutes of your time. What this article should have been was some statements of fact about the case. But of course, whenever you bring up a single instance of a rape accusation you must drag along the discredited baggage that comes along with that. Specifically, unnamed and un-linked studies that supposedly “prove” the prevalence of rape on campus. So I will deliver the straight forward facts of this case to you (as delivered by this terrible article), since withholding judgement involves not calling the accuser a liar, as well as not calling the accused a rapist.
According to this article, there was a rape accusation at the University of Washington levied by a woman who claimed she was raped at a frat “Zeta Psi” during an unauthorized party on May 28th. Zeta Psi has declined to comment on the matter. The police identified the accuser as a student, and she was treated at a local hospital, university officials said.
Pretty straight-forward reporting. However, here comes the baggage:
The allegation comes the same month a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that sexual violence at U.S. colleges had reached epidemic levels. The survey, based on a survey of 483 participants, found more than 15 percent of young women at an unnamed private college in upstate New York disclosed a rape or attempted rape during their first year on campus.
This survey was not linked in the article. None of their readers have access to this information. They are merely force-fed it and made to digest it anyhow. Here is another claim made in the article:
About 47 rapes were reported in 2014 to police in Seattle, which has a population of more than 600,000, said Seattle Police Department Detective Patrick Michaud. (Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)
I don’t think that the Huffington Post truly understands the gravity of what it is claiming. I have seen citation after citation of surveys in articles like this that aren’t linked in the article. If you want your claim to be taken seriously, then please link something for goodness sake. I eventually found the survey here. Unfortunately, the survey costs money I don’t have. Considering every single past study I have seen that calculates rape on campus through “surveys” always seems to have problems in their methodology. Whether it be sample size (in this case 483), indirect questions, twisting of the conclusion that doesn’t fit with their data, or something else. This study of course was done at one college in Upstate New York that they will not name in the article.
The methods are described as such in the study’s summary:
Female students (N = 483) completed a health questionnaire (1) on arrival on campus; (2) at the end of the fall semester; (3) at the end of the spring semester; and (4) at the end of the summer following their first year of college.
All it gives me is a “health questionnaire.” It doesn’t say that they were asked about rape or sexual assault. I can’t see it because I don’t have the money and so I have to rely on the media to report on these studies. But as we have seen with previous studies and reporting, I cannot. I don’t know the questions that were asked. I don’t know if they were asked directly whether they were raped or sexually assaulted, or whether the questionnaire used questions like “Did you ever have sex while drunk,” and then classify that as Incapacitated Rape. The conclusion of the study reads:
Both incapacitated and forcible sexual assaults and rape have reached epidemic levels among college women. Interventions to address sexual violence on campus are urgently needed.
Like moths to a dim bulb, the media has pounced on this conclusion. Here are a few articles to show you what I mean.
They tell us what the study defines as rape which is “vaginal, oral, or anal penetration using threats of violence or use of physical force, or using the tactic of victim incapacitation.” Which I find a completely appropriate definition of rape if we are talking about females exclusively. However, what journalists fail to give us is their definition of “incapacitation” because we have seen issues in the past of “incapacitation” being used to refer to tipsy people. What I don’t understand is why they always need to lump in “rape” with “attempted rape.” I find this very suspect. I’m not trying to diminish the trauma of an attempted rape, however one has to wonder which was reported more, a completed rape or an attempted rape. I am also unaware of what they define as an attempted rape. I am given a broad overview by journalists and not given any specifics on the definitions used in the study besides the definition of rape.
As you have seen previously in the article, Seattle police reported that there were 47 reports of rape to police in 2015 in the city of Seattle. Which, in turn, has a population of approximately 600,000. Yet, 15 percent of college students reported a forcible rape. This is what I mean when I say the Huffington Post doesn’t understand the gravity of what they claim. There are 74,174 full-time and part-time students in Seattle. They are claiming that rape on college campuses has reached epidemic levels due to a study done at one college in Upstate New York that they give the results on, but none of the methodology. They don’t even link it in the article. Yet then they tell us, that there were only 47 reports of rape in Seattle in 2015. So, this says one of two things:
1) The study is flawed and there isn’t actually that much rape occurring.
2) Rape is under-reported to an extreme degree.
But, journalists generally won’t bring up the first possibility because that doesn’t make a good headline. What does make a good headline is “STUDY FINDS RAPE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES REACHING EPIDEMIC LEVELS.” What must be true for both of these claims to be true is this, let’s do some math.
Women are around 60% of the student population. So that reduces our 74,174 number to 44,504. If we use their 15 percent claim, then 6,676 women in college in Seattle would’ve experienced rape or attempted rape during their first year on campus. Let that sink in for a moment. Then contrast that with there being 47 reports of rape in the city of Seattle as a whole. Even if we say that all 47 of those reports came from college women it would still be a vast overstatement of the case. The Huffington Post has set up an unfalsifiable position for itself.
High number of rape reports = Rape Epidemic
Low number of rape reports = Under-reported, but there is still a Rape Epidemic.
Journalists need to start thinking things through more carefully before they brandish these studies as flawless fact. There doesn’t seem to be a way to prove that a “Rape Epidemic” isn’t actually occurring. Everyone just has to admit that it is true and that rape is happening constantly on our college campuses and we can all move on with our lives. Move on with our lives meaning continuing to erode due process on college campuses for men accused of rape. I was in college previously and needed to drop-out due to financial issues. But within my first month there I did not hear of one instance where somebody was raped or sexually assaulted. My friend, however, was accused by a girl who claimed he “threatened to rape her” even though no such threat actually occurred. He was forced to move from his current dormitory across campus. On word alone with no evidence. My anecdotes are not evidence, but that has been my experience during my short stint in college.
It doesn’t seem like anyone can complain about this type of thing without being accused of some sort of woman-hate or rape apologia. I am suspect whenever a “survey” is used to determine something and then news sources run with the conclusion while hardly giving any indication of the method of the study. It is all just for ratings, clicks, and headlines. But these headlines are putting men in college into a smaller and smaller box. This “Rape Epidemic” has not been proven in any way and yet people are using it to justify stripping away the rights of men in college. I personally find it disgusting that the goal is not to punish guilty people, but to get more rape convictions regardless of guilt or innocence.
I am not sure whether this woman was raped at a party or not. University officials say that she was treated at a local hospital and that adds some weight to her claims. Police identify her as a student and so it is clear that police are actually investigating the case. I will withhold judgement until more facts of the case are brought to light.
P.S: Journalists, do your jobs better.