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Rapes hushed up by administration at Amherst

p314iep314ie Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited November 2012 in Amherst College
Well, hopefully it has some! Ideally, ramifications in the form of Amherst fixing their response to such incidents.

Or, at least, in terms of students not applying there because of it.

I'm not so optimistic. Such things often go unpunished and affect little.
Post edited by p314ie on

Replies to: Rapes hushed up by administration at Amherst

  • BlckmgcBlckmgc Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College | The Amherst Student

    tl;dr student at Amherst was raped, administration encouraged her not to pursue the case against her rapist since he was about to graduate with honors, evidence that the administration does this systematically

    Thoughts on possible ramifications for the school?
  • AdidasNikeAdidasNike Registered User Posts: 132 Junior Member
    I heard about it, I am shocked!
  • gratefuldadgratefuldad Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    Here is the initial response from President Martin:
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Registered User Posts: 7,304 Senior Member
    If you look at the many, many pages of comments to the original story, you'll see that this is a problem that doesn't start or end with Amherst . . . students and alumnae from schools all over the country are saying that they faced similar treatment at their colleges. Some schools have reevaluated their outdated sexual assault policies, but it is likely that many more have not.

    So, if you're thinking of withdrawing your Amherst application because of this article, you'd better rethink your entire college list!
  • dpy2101dpy2101 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    In reply to Dodgersmom, I'm not sure what the point of your warning is. Are you saying it's inevitable that students will have to choose a school that has a terrible sexual assault policy, therefore turn a blind eye to Amherst's? What a terrible compromise to make.

    I think Amherst, and other schools, will take this opportunity to change sexual assault policies. However, schools have to be sent a message that college applicants do care about a school's sexual assault policy, and the only way that will happen is if some significant number of applicants choose not to send an application and an application fee that way. Since Amherst is in the news, its admissions data this cycle will be scrutinized by Amherst's administration and by other schools precisely to ascertain whether there is a backlash, and whether they need to redouble their efforts at reform.

    Yes, it might be impossible or impractical to boycott every offender, but it certainly is possible to boycott a particularly prominent and egregious offender, in order to set *one* example.
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Registered User Posts: 5,440 Senior Member
    It have a different take on this. I think in light of what has come out this week at Amherst, things will tighten up quickly, new policies will be put in place, and potential offenders put on notice that there will be quick and stiff penalties. With all of this, I think Amherst might be a safer place to apply, if there is such a thing.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    According to the College President, there were 41 women raped (this does not count forcible sexual assaults, or sexual assaults) at Williams (I'm a Williams alum) in the previous nine months. Four students were expelled. Not a single rape was reported to the police. What this means is that there are likely several dozen rapists still prowling the Williams campus.

    I expect exactly the same is true at Amherst.
  • finnsdadfinnsdad Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    I find that impossible to believe or accept. My daughter is a soph at Williams this year and well aware of any issues. LY they had a hate crime incident, and classes cancelled for discussion, TY they have had an issue on vandalism and disrespect of others, which was brought out in the open. Rape, in my mind, is 100 times more serious and would not be ignored. I too think that Amherst will react strongly and become more aware of this issue.
  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie Registered User Posts: 1,905 Senior Member
    Out of curiosity, can someone talk about the logistics of prosecuting an alleged rape that happened several months before a victim files her report? No rape counselor should respond as this young woman says hers did. But the victim's failure to come forward right away has to make the search for evidence complicated, I would imagine.
  • PerAsperaPerAspera Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Mini, what is your source for these numbers?

    According to the College President, there were 41 women raped (this does not count forcible sexual assaults, or sexual assaults) at Williams (I'm a Williams alum) in the previous nine months. Four students were expelled. Not a single rape was reported to the police.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    My source is the President of Williams College. This is one of several communications:

    On Sexual Assault at Williams | Office of the President

    "I find that impossible to believe or accept. My daughter is a soph at Williams this year and well aware of any issues."

    I find it impossible to believe or accept that your daughter did not receive or read the multiple communications she received directly from the College President, did not attend any of the events following the results of the survey, following its publication in the Williams Record. I think she must hide things from you pretty well.


    Do you read the Williams Record? 4.4% of female students (and 0.3%) of male Williams students were raped last year. Not molested, sexually assaulted, forcibly sexually assaulted (those numbers are much higher) but raped.

    You can find the information on the four expulsions yourself. As I said, if only four were expelled, there are several dozen criminal rapists walking freely around the Williams campus. And I don't think it is different at Amherst.

    Here is the definition of rape Williams uses, which is exactly the same as Massachusetts Law (so there can be no blurring or distinctions):
  • PerAsperaPerAspera Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Thanks mini. Those numbers come from a survey of the students so it's likely that most of those rapes were not reported to the administration or the police. I read that an estimated 95% of these cases are not reported by the victims. Still, the survey results show that 40 women and 3 men say they were raped last year at Williams. That is very disturbing.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    Well, enough were reported to result in the expulsion of four male students. We don't know about other disciplinary actions. But it still means there are literally dozens of criminal rapists prowling the Williams campus, and, likely, the same is true at Amherst. And that doesn't even begin to number the sexual assaults.

    (p.s. It was my mistake. It was 44 women raped, not 41.)
  • EphmanEphman Registered User Posts: 440 Member
    First, read the Amherst student account and it is moving and powerful. Most disturbing is the nonchalant and cavalier response she appeared to receive from multiple administrators.

    The key statistics from the article Mini cites I've posted below this paragraph in brackets. It sounds from those statistics like Williams is roughly in line with a typical college in terms of these statistics. Members of the Williams and Amherst (and similar) communities would like to think that our siblings, kids, friends, etc. are free from the types of serious fears and issues that other college kids confront, but obviously, they are not ... just because they are high academic achievers doesn't mean they won't assault or be victims of assault, abuse drugs and alcohol, or both (as frequently these behaviors go hand-in-hand). It is impossible for virtually ANY college to be free entirely from these problems when you are putting thousands of 18-22 year olds together, but at the same time, I feel like Amherst, Williams, and many other schools can do a better jobin terms of prevention (more sensible alcohol policies, treating violence as or more severely than academic fraud, a lot more awareness / training, etc. etc.) as well as how they respond.

    [From the article: National surveys report that one in five women, and one in sixteen men, are sexually assaulted while in college. These appalling numbers are quite consistent across types of institutions, from small liberal arts colleges to large universities. Sadly, we have no reason to believe that Williams differs. In surveys conducted at Williams last year, 19 percent of our female students and 4 percent of our male students reported sexual touching without their consent over the previous twelve months. Some 0.3 percent of our men and 4 percent of our women reported sexual penetration without their consent – rape – in the previous 12 months. (These rates are similar to, and in some cases somewhat higher than, those of our peer schools who fielded the same survey.)]

    Now, all that being said, this study is self-reported, and has limitations. The biggest limitation is that we have NO idea how many of these incidents were reported to the college, so it's impossible to judge the college's response. Also, to the extent the incidents were reported, I would hope the colleges would encourage students to file a police report, but ultimately, that should be left to the students and I'm sure some would choose to decline. Moreover, different people have different ideas of what is or is not unwanted sexual touching (penetration, however, is a far more definitive concept).

    I also note, as someone who has prosecuted these types of offenses, to remember that there (1) is a presumption of innocence and (2) that these types of crimes are frequently the very hardest to prove, especially where there is no physical evidence or eyewitnesses, and especially when there is a lag between the incident and reporting. And yes, while in my view they are relatively rare, false reports of rape do happen. And especially where heavy alcohol use is involved, it is more of a continuum rather than a black or white situation -- it is highly likely that some situations, a victim perceives as a rape, where a perpetrator legitimately did not realize there was a lack of consent. I'm not saying this characterizes all or even most of these situations, but to just say, there are "dozens of rapists" running around the Williams or Amherst campus is frankly over-the-top and and unsupported.

    I also note that colleges are placed in a VERY difficult position when one person says they were raped, the person they point to vehemently denies it (and perhaps has no disciplinary record at all), and there is no supporting evidence either way. If the college does nothing, then the victim feels like their rapist is free to roam around campus without repercussion, and it's hard to imagine anything more terrifying and disempowering than that. If the college always takes victims at their word without more support for a charge, then there will be times when an innocent life is ruined (because, yeah, getting kicked out of college for raping someone, when you did not, is pretty ruinous). What standard should a college employ when deciding when to discipline someone who was accused of rape? If beyond a reasonable doubt, they will almost never impose discipline and many rapists will face no repercussions, but the college will also rarely punish someone who is falsely accused. If it's a preponderance of the evidence, discipline will be far more common and victims will be better protected, but certainly some innocent accused rapists will be disciplined or even expelled. It's an extraordinarily difficult position to be in, with no obvious answer that I can think of. Which is why I'd focus most of my effort, were I a college, on prevention, awareness, education, to do everything possible to limit the number of dangerous situations on campus to begin with.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    " I'm not saying this characterizes all or even most of these situations, but to just say, there are "dozens of rapists" running around the Williams or Amherst campus is frankly over-the-top and and unsupported."

    If there are 44 women raped in one year (some of them may have had it happen more than once; and this is not counting the hundreds of sexual assaults), students are for four years, and only four students are expelled, you do the math.

    I stand by my characterization.

    (By the way, the rate of women reporting they'd been raped at Williams is not comparable to other liberal arts colleges (I reported the data above). At Williams, the rate is 4.4%, compared with 3.2% at other liberal arts institutions, some 37.5% higher. Either there are more women reporting they are raped there, or more women that lie. I greatly applaud the efforts of the new Williams President to change cultural norms on campus - something the previous President would never have attempted - and hope that the new Amherst President is equally committed - and I hope they both succeed.)
This discussion has been closed.