Gallaudet University Prevention Courses

What spokesperson in their right mind would claim that the high rate of forcible sex assaults on school property means they are doing something right. Apparently the spokeswoman, Catherine Murphy has no problem putting that theory in play because of their access to accommodations.

“Our students are more likely to go somewhere on campus and report [assault] than go to a hospital a because they have direct access to someone who speaks American Sign Language,” explained Gallaudet spokeswoman Catherine Murphy. “If they went to the local hospital, they would have to wait for interpreters. If they go to campus police or a counselor, they have full communication access.” (No Rapes On Campus)

So, according to the statement that Catherine Murphy made to the Daily Beast, the higher number of reported rapes, the school’s numbers are higher because of their facility’s accessibility to students. While it is understandable that Gallaudet University may say that because of the access available to students, they are more involved in the process of reporting a rape, it is still questionable that these numbers are adequate in the first place.

According to TIMES, the number of sex crimes reported is on the rise (52 percent between 2001 and 2011) while overall crimes on campus are dropping. They are saying that because colleges are becoming more aware of the difference between forcible (sexual assault happening when individual is forced) and non-forcible (is said to occur when the individual can’t give consent or is case of incest) sexual offenses, the number of forcible sexual offenses have been going up while non-forcible sexual offenses are going down. Is this a sign of balance between the two? Non-forcible  has gone down a whopping 90 percent during the same time that sex crimes being reported has increased.

Does this mean that Gallaudet University is doing something right? Not necessarily, but they do have several different types of programs that increases awareness and knowledge of what sexual assaults are and how to report them. Sometimes women and men are unable to report the rape or sexual assault because they don’t realize what has happened to them, or are in denial. Their numbers have been on the rise since the school implemented various programs to support students. Gallaudet’s student body has been very involved in promoting education and awareness about sexual assault.

Tracey Vitchers, a spokesperson for Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), says “It’s unreasonable to think any school has zero sexual assault or crime.” Schools self-report Clery Act numbers, she explains, so there are a number of potential loopholes in the tracking. “There are some accusations of schools under-reporting or misrepresenting. Rather than labeling something as sexual assault, they may label it just as assault so it looks less severe,” she says. A school with zero forcible sexual offenses may also indicate that “people aren’t reporting because of other barriers.” (No Rapes on Campus)

Senator Clarie McCaskill (D-Mo.) is concerned about the schools that have reported exactly zero offenses, more than she is concerned about the schools that have been reporting high numbers. (Washington Post) Gallaudet and Penn State are low on her priority list because she believes it’s possible the schools that have zero offenses aren’t doing enough to promote education and encourage students to come forward.

Pay close attention to the schools that have very low to zero sexual assault reports and remember that there are various people that believe that it’s because they aren’t doing anything to support their students in reporting a rape or sexual assault incident. That doesn’t mean that schools with high number of reported sexual assault cases are schools that are doing everything right, they are just schools that happen to be more transparent with their statistics.

Written By Mary Pat Withem