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Dozens of reported rapes a year on some college campuses, federal stats show

By Martin Smith
Dozens of reported rapes a year on some college campuses, federal stats show
There were 33 reported rapes at Harvard in 2014, but figures for other colleges and universities are even worse. UPI/Shutterstock/Marcio Jose Bastos Silva

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Federal campus safety data shows that nearly 100 U.S. colleges and universities had at least 10 reports of rape a year on their main campuses.

Some colleges had dozens of reports of sexual assaults a year.

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The statistics make grim reading in the wake of the Stanford rape case controversy that has raged in recent days.

Brown University and the University of Connecticut tied for the highest number of reported rapes in 2014 -- 43 each. They were closely followed by Dartmouth College (42), Wesleyan University (37), the University of Virginia (35) and Harvard (33).

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Rounding out the top 10 on the U.S. Department of Education website are the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (32), Rutgers-New Brunswick (32), the University of Vermont (27) and Stanford (26).

But victim advocates insist that the figures are an encouraging sign because it means that more students are reporting sexual assaults to police than in the past when they may have kept them to themselves.

"The fact that 43 incidents were reported indicates that we are building trust among our campus community members in how the university responds to reported incidents of sexual and gender-based violence," Brown spokesman Brian E. Clark said in an email to the Washington Post, which examined the cases of alleged rape at colleges.

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University of Connecticut spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the university "works very hard to cultivate a culture of forthrightness so this traditionally under-reported crime can be addressed and our students receive appropriate services and support."

When schools are ranked in terms of reported rape cases compared to the size of the student population, Reed College in Portland, Ore., fared worst with 12.9 alleged sexual assaults on its campus per 1,000 students. It was followed by Wesleyan, Swarthmore College, Knox College, Williams College, Pomona College, Gallaudet University, Beloit College and Dartmouth.

Reed spokesman Kevin Myers said that data from the analysis was not a surprise.

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"We have made the process very transparent and as friendly as it can possibly be in that situation," Myers said. "It's about helping the students who come forward get the help they need, in a way that they can control."

Reed is a liberal arts college with about 1,400 students.

The Washington Post's analysis, covering more than 1,300 schools with at least 1,000 students, found 99 schools had at least 10 reports of rape on their main campuses in 2014. It also found 502 schools that had zero reports of rape that year on their main campuses.

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Having a low number of reported rapes is not necessarily a sign that all is well, as evidenced last month when Baylor University demoted its president, Kenneth Starr, and fired its football coach Art Briles, after an investigation found that the school had failed to respond effectively to reports of sexual assault involving football players and others.

"Universities need to stop trying to treat this as a PR problem, and treat it as the civil rights and public safety issue that it is," said Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women. "It's happening on their campuses, undeniably. There's no use putting their heads in the sand."

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