The other day the Washington Post wrote a follow-up article about its campus sexual assault poll. The focus of the article was the debate about the poll’s findings about the rate of campus sexual assaults. The article noted that its 1 in 5 finding was subject to criticism as being constructed in a manner that would elicit a rate that is higher than the actual rate of sexual assault. What is also worth noting is that in the article Valerie Jarrett (a senior advisor to President Obama) did a bit of distancing from the 1 in 5 number that was used in the report by the White House’s “Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.” Ms Jarrett is did not want to engage in a discussion about the rate as found in the Post’s poll, and is quoted as stating “[n]o one’s denying it’s occurring …. [l]et’s focus on what the solutions are and not debate the statistics.”
The article and the sentiments expressed by Ms. Jarrett echo my opinion as expressed in my post of June 17. A part of the issue as to why the debate about the rate of campus sexual assaults will continue is that the 1 in 5 statistic was given so much currency and terms such as an “epidemic” of campus sexual assaults have been used. I question whether there is any poll or survey that can be devised that will provide a truly satisfactory answer about the true rate of campus sexual assault–although that remains to be seen. As I earlier suggested, the better course is to focus on creating fair and equitable campus procedures and educational/prevention programming.
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