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paarent's concern

danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
edited January 2006 in Amherst College
I am using my daughter's access to review a highly disconcerting series of opinion editorials I have been reading in the Amherst student newspaper during the months of September and October. Both issues go to the heart of whether Amherst is first, meeting its obligations in loco parentis and second ,is there substance to the claim that Amherst has sufficient staffing to meet its promise of small class size and student to teacher ratio.

First there is terrifying news that there is a huge problem of campus date rape and unreported sexual assaults. If the opinion articles can be believed the incidences of women being assaulted sexually by drunken male "dates" is on the upswing. Women are afraid to file official complaints because the negative backlash from fellow students or amazingly from concern about ruining the boy's academic futures.There is a highly troubling criminal case surrounding a viscious rape on campus. Additionally, the opinion articles noted numerous rapes and sexual assualts that could encompass what appears to be numbers of female students. I advise any prospective female applicant or parent to go online and read these troubling editorials and ask probing questions of the Amherst administration. I ask any Amherst student who reads this to respond.

The second opinion featured the issue that Amherst needs more staffing to deal with a problem of overcrowded non-introductory classes and students being shut out of popular classes. It appears from this opinion article that the vaunted small class size at many of Amherst's classes may be illusory. I again urge any student from Amherst to comment.
My daughter, wife and I loved what we saw and heard when we visited the campus. The school is my daughter's first choice school. However these aforementioned issues are highly troubling.
edited January 2006
34 replies
Post edited by danashu on
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Replies to: paarent's concern

  • BJM8BJM8 1220 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I'd love to read about this as well. What link can I go to? Amherst is our first choice as well.
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    For the person asking where I read this information I site you to the online October 19, 2005 issue of the Amherst Student. It can be found by going to the Amherst website and clicking on campus life and then student pulications and then Amherst Student. The editorial on class size is by the paper's editorial staff and the rape article is by Scout Durwood. If you go to earlier issues of the paper I saw another editorial abourt campus sexual assault problems.
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  • bogororobogororo 520 replies18 threads Member
    About overenrolled courses, one should not overestimate the problem. Most classes have excellent sizes for professor-student interaction. Problems appear in very popular courses from very popular departments - I would add econ to the list compiled by the Amherst Student.
    Also, you should be aware that this article is written in a time when the Committee on Academic Priorities is having its meetings to decide just that - academic priorities. The Student is signaling a problem but, from my information and limited experience, it is a minor defficiency in what is otherwise an excellent system.
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  • BJM8BJM8 1220 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I'm most concerned with the alleged rapes taking place, and as I continued reading, seems like there's quite the alcohol problem on campus. Bothers me reading about trash left all over the place after TAP, and trees being ripped down. That is not what we envisioned when discussing Amherst and the surrounding community. What is really going on over there?
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  • bogororobogororo 520 replies18 threads Member
    What is really going on over there?
    Maybe it's because I'm a freshman living in a subfree dorm, but nothing much seems to be going on over here. I've read about the tree which was ripped down and I find it to be a regrettable incident. The overwhelming majority of people here do not engage in that kind of behaviour, though. As about drinking, yes, there are people who drink on campus and there are people who get drunk. But from my very subjective point of view saying that the college has a drinking problem is an exaggeration.
    About rape occurrences, I don't really know the extent of the problem so I wouldn't want to be saying anything about this. What I do know is that the college is taking measures to combat this. Our orientation schedule included lots of discussions about date-rape and, more specifically, what constitutes consent. There was a "Healthy Relationship week" about a month ago etc. What I'm trying to point out here is that, while the problem is real indeed, the college is making a lot of effort to address it. That article is another step in raising awareness about the issue. I'm not sure how things are at other small LACs, but I suspect that the situation is simmilar, even though their student papers may not reflect it to the same extent. It is not about Amherst fostering a climate of sexual promiscuity (which it clearly does not) but about pop-culture weaving a web of promiscuity around college - that's why maybe some people have such unhealthy expectations about their relationships.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 threads Member
    D has not heard of any problems, but she is in sub free housing. Date rape was around when I went to college, and still is. My friend who attended Valparaiso 25 years ago was date raped. It can happen anywhere. There are incidents in high school, as well. Education is the way to help deal with this problem and Amherst has gone above and beyond on this issue. I would suspect the editorial was in conjunction with the date rape orientation that all freshman were required to attend, and then the HRW that all studnet s had to participate in. Our high school even has the teachers required to watch a film on sexual harrassment and how to deal with it. What was quite clearly swept under the rug in our society for years, is now out in the open and fodder for discussion. Just hearing about it makes parents nervous. I am impressed that Amherst has placed such an emphasis on the issue so that the students even feel free to write about it. The more kids are aware, the less chance there will be for it to happen. BTW, your D can request sub free housing and she will get it. She can ask for all girls, as well, and live in Appleton.
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  • BJM8BJM8 1220 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I love the subfree housing idea. I'm sure if my D is admitted, she would ask for that. Makes a lot of sense for a kid who just isn't into that sort of thing!
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 threads Member
    There are parties, sure, but D hasn't gone to nary a one, because she isn't into that. There are parties on every campus in the US, but there is plenty to do ohter than party. Sub free kids have keg parties - with root beer. Also, there are concerts, movies, lectures, etc., and D has Trivial Pursuit get-togethers in her room. There are a lot of kids that don't care for the party scene at Amherst. Your D will find like minded kids, especially if she is in sub free housing. D loves it!
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    I went back and re-read the opinion article. The author indicated that she had spoken to a number of her campus friends re: Amherst campus rape. She stated that not one person she spoke with was without one if not more close friends who had been raped while at Amherst by another Amherst student. That is a frightening comment. She goes on to state"If you have been raped at Amherst you are not alone." She asserts that the social climate at Amherst surrounding rape is unacceptable.

    This loud clarion call for change of a seemingly endemic problem is not something our daughters can avoid by living in a substance free dorm. Our daughters will be Amherst citizens who should be able to leave their substance free dorms without worrying about that brilliant boy who becomes a cretin when he does shots and beer.

    All of the lacs my daughter is applying to have date rape counseling and include it in their orientation. All of the schools are focusing on the problem. Yes it is good that Amherst's women are fomenting for change. But the editorialist is clearly concerned that her classmates are not listening or concerned.

    This won't stop our D from applying, but you can be sure if she gets in and before she accepts we will ask a lot of questions of women students and compare with what we hear at other campuses.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 threads Member
    D hasn't felt uneasy leaving her dorm. If it is date rape, then these girls were there with the boy who was drinking, etc. D leaves if and when any drinking, etc., starts. I am NOT saying this is the girl's fault or that they asked for it - they didn't - there is no excuse for such behavior, but every girl has to be aware of circumstances that can bring about danger, even when just walking in the parking lot of the grocery store. I hope I have done a good job of teaching my D what she needs to know to stay as safe as possible. I know you also have. Education should help the girls from being in a situation where this could happen, but even if it does, they should feel free to report it. That is the atmosphere that Amherst administration is endeavoring to foster. I have e-mailed D to see if she has heard anything about this issue, and will let you know. We discussed it after she attended the date-rape orientation, and she didn't seem to feel that it was a porblem on campus at the time.
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    Evita: I agree with you . You know , I'm 57 and when I was a kid we trick o treated without our folks there. We wandered our neighborhood at night alone. Yes we've trained them well and it's a shame that even at a splendid institution like Amherst they have to be careful playing alone in their own backyard.

    Let me know what your daughter tells you .
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  • ___equilibrium___equilibrium 127 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I actually read the same article a few days ago, while browsing the Amherst website. Although it is frightening to think that an environment designed for education young people can turn into a haven for sexual assaulters, rape is an unfortunately common problem on the majority of college campuses, or rather, in the WORLD. The point is, rape exists wherever you go; the best thing we can do is try to prevent it and promote healthy relationships, etc.

    This article could have been printed in the newspaper of practically ANY college or university in the nation. Unless the issue is seriously invading campus life, I would not revamp my decision to apply. By no means am I implying that rape need not be addressed by the administration or ignored; I just think that it will take a LOT of work to cut down on the number of women (and sometimes men) who are sexually assaulted every day.
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    I don't think the editorialist's thesis is that rape is rampant throughout colleges across the country and society. The thesis of the article was that the problem was more than endemic campus rape but rather that the campus society was not facing up to the problem but was burrying its head in the sand. Yes the administration raises the issue at orientation and the women's groups are urging action but the students know about the problem but are not raising hell about it. Booze and inertia are the culprets as well as an abusive male population.

    I do however agree that the problem exists at many schools. I am interested in hearing from Amherst students and from Evita's kid.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 threads Member
    Am going to Parent's Weekend, and will have a long discussion with D about this.
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  • interesteddadinteresteddad 23879 replies298 threads Senior Member
    These issues, including date rape, are why it is worth investigating the frequency heavy episodic drinking in each school's culture. The issue is not "moralistic" (drinking versus non-drinking), but rather the secondary effects of a heavy drinking scene.

    The date rape issue is a major problem -- for both men and women. A woman, intoxicated beyond a certain point, cannot give legal consent. In old days, a guy who would have been labeled a boorish cad for taking advantage of a drunk female. Today, his lack of common decency is asking for rape charge. These are situtations that could be easily avoided without the binge drinking component.

    BTW, I don't see either of those two student editorials as particularly alarming. The rape editorial was quite good. The one of the number of professors is just fluff. An editorial like that has probably been published every year for the last century at Amherst. Amherst has no shortage of professors relative to the size of the student body.
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  • BJM8BJM8 1220 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Great post Interesteddad! You're right on about the no shortage of professors relative to the size of the student body at Amherst. Much ado about nothing, I gather. The rape issue is much more important, and needs to be discussed at length at ALL colleges. ALL colleges have binge drinking, and ALL colleges have an alcohol problem. Do not misunderstand me, no one deserves to be raped. But avoiding those potentially dangerous situations should be the focus. I believe that date rape is on the rise, and has been really since the late 80's; this is nothing new to colleges and high schools. Yet, very little education takes place on campuses around this subject. Maybe it's the "not in my backyard" type of thinking, but we must all come to the realization that is does happen "everywhere." All we can do is prepare our children as well as possible for the mean, cruel world waiting for them. Helping them, talking to them so they may avoid those dengerous situations is key. Colleges need to do a better job of doing that as well.
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  • BJM8BJM8 1220 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Great post Interesteddad! You're right on about the no shortage of professors relative to the size of the student body at Amherst. Much ado about nothing, I gather. The rape issue is much more important, and needs to be discussed at length at ALL colleges. ALL colleges have binge drinking, and ALL colleges have an alcohol problem. Do not misunderstand me, no one deserves to be raped. But avoiding those potentially dangerous situations should be the focus. I believe that date rape is on the rise, and has been really since the late 80's; this is nothing new to colleges and high schools. Yet, very little education takes place on campuses around this subject. Maybe it's the "not in my backyard" type of thinking, but we must all come to the realization that this does happen "everywhere." All we can do is prepare our children as well as possible for the mean, cruel world waiting for them. Helping them, talking to them so they may avoid those dangerous situations is key. Colleges need to do a better job of doing that as well.
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    Interested dad I usually think you are right on relative to your well researched postings. However I cannot disagree with you more relative to the rape editorial not being alarming. The editorial was well written but its substance was quite upsetting as to the statistics it was quoting and the obvious concern the editorial writer had for the topic as it applied to her campus. The fact that the topic is a national issue does not deminish the fact that so many Amherst students have friends who have been raped by a fellow student who they know.

    If this level of problem was as endemic at your child's school, Swarthmore I believe you would be truly concerned.

    As an attorney in Philadelphia I am happy to state that I am unaware that date rape is as significant a problem at Swarthmore although it does exist. Dana's dad
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  • interesteddadinteresteddad 23879 replies298 threads Senior Member
    Dana's Dad:

    I should have known better than to address a trivial issue (more professors) and a serious issue (date rape) in the same post. I'm afraid I did a poor job of communicating my concern.

    I am very concerned about the date rape issue. The only reason I wasn't "alarmed" by the Amherst article is that the same article could be, and should be, written at every campus (including Swarthmore, which has 5, 1, and 0 reported rape incidents in each of the last three years according to the IPEDS national crime reporting system). Date rape is a very serious an issue.

    Probably a better choice of phrase would be to say that the editorial did not surprise me. There is no doubt in my mind that date rape and binge drinking are inextricably linked -- probably in a directly proportional relationship. The statistics certainly suggest that to be this case:

    In his monograph on summarizing the results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Surveys, Dr. Weschler has this to say:
    Heavy alcohol use, coupled with inexperience with drinking, puts young women in serious jeopardy for sexual assault. About 10 percent of female students who are frequent binge drinkers report being raped or subjected to nonconsensual sex, compared to only 3 percent of non bingeing female students. Furthermore, most campus rapes occur after heavy drinking.

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas/Documents/monograph_2000/cas_mono_2000.pdf

    An analysis of college rape based on the CAS data states that:
    The present study indicates that 1 in 20 college women experienced rape since the beginning of the school year. Moreover, 72% of these rapes occurred when victims were so intoxicated that they were unable to consent. Certain women are at increased risk of being raped while intoxicated, particularly those who attend colleges with higher levels of heavy episodic drinking and who belong to or live in sororities.
    .

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas/Documents/rapeintox/037-Mohler-Kuo.sep1.pdf

    IMO, the heavy epidsodic (or binge) drinking issue and the date rape issue are inseparable. If you are concerned about one, you have to be concerned about the other. You can't logically have a "kids will be kids" or "all colleges are the same" attitude about high binge drinking rates and then express concern about date rape.

    Things that are important on the date rape issue are:

    1) reducing the binge drinking rates at colleges

    2) education, especially during orientation. Kids need to know that there are no winners, only losers, in date rape. Male students need to know that an intoxicated person cannot give legal consent. If there is any doubt that the person is giving consent and is capable of consent, the kid HAS to walk away -- not just because it's the right thing to do, but because he can end up doing jail time.

    3) 24/7 on-campus health care with nurses and counselors trained in handling date rape

    4) a designated female dean as the point person for date rape referrals.

    5) parents need to have frank discussions about the drinking and date rape issues, with their sons and their daughters. At one time, having a cad for a son might be mildly embarrassing, or perhaps even a source of pride in some circles. In this day age, the cad can end up behind bars.
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  • danashudanashu 133 replies21 threads Junior Member
    interested dad:
    Now that's the well- reasoned thoroughly researched reply I have come to admire and expect from you. I've got to tell you i am very curious what your profession is for a few reasons. First you are very erudite and obviously well read and a great researcher. Second, how the heck do you have the time to send out thousands of posts?

    I have become interested in this site because my D uses it to research colleges and get great strategy advice. I use it to get insider info and pass it on to friends and use it to help our family advise our D so she can make the best choices for herself.

    But you sir are omnipresent here. Are you the publisher of this site? You are the Yoda of CC. I'd loved my curiousity to be slaked by you giving up your insider info on what leads you to hang out here so much. Perhaps it is your unique donation to we first time pre -college parents and prospective students. Anyway you are an enjoyable read. Dana's dad
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