Should College Ranking Critiques Include Sexual Assault Stats?

There is a growing national discussion about sexual assaults on college campuses. This discussion has been fueled recently by interest from the White House where Pres. Obama announced the formation of a task force to investigate and recommend solutions to the problem. It has also been fueled by a federal government investigation of 55 colleges for potential sexual assault policy violations of title IX.

But the biggest generator of interest on this hot topic is the clamoring of female students all over the country who are more concerned than ever about their own personal safety on campus.

The Department of Justice did a study on campus sexual assaults several years ago that is still the basis for many of the statistics used in this debate.

The statistics show that:

  1. 19% of the respondents were victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.
  2. 70% of the victims were incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
  3. 99% of the perpetrators are male.
  4. 90% of the victims know their assailant.
  5. More than 40% of these felony assaults occur in September or October with the influx of new students.

This study, it should be pointed out, is the largest with 5,000 responses. The study also showed that only about 5% of these college sexual assaults are ever reported to the police. Those statistics give you some insights into the scope of the problem.

Adding a note of outrage to this discussion is that the two most popular and widely read and, we might add, respected college ranking critiques-U.S. News & World Report and the highly respected Princeton Review do not include any mention of sexual assaults on campus.

The Princeton Review can tell you whether the school offers good value and what the best dorms are, but they do not mention whether the college you pick has a rape or sexual assault problem. Recently a dozen house lawmakers and several independent groups of readers of U.S. News & World Report pressed them to include violence statistics in their ratings.

They responded by stating that they do not factor in overall campus life or culture, positive or negative, including campus crimes or reporting of sexual violence. They stated that the indicators that they used to measure academic quality are independent of campus crime statistics and proper handling of crime reporting.

When it comes time for parents and students to do their due diligence in picking a college or university, they rely on every source of information they can get, from friends, relatives and of course your own personal experience. These two independent sources have been heavily relied on for decades but offer no clue as to the crime climate on campuses they rate.

Meanwhile we recommend that women students learn how to defend themselves by taking a basic self-defense course and carry a self-defense product for personal safety to protect themselves against an assault with one of our close to 200 Defensive Sprays or one of our 123 Powerful Stun Devices.