Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whitman College's Efforts To Find Out The True Number Of Rapes

While too many college officials do everything they can to keep their rape statistics low to preserve their image as a safe place, Whitman College officials in Walla Walla, Washington are doing what they can to get their rape statistics high enough to match the actual number of student rapes.

The actual goal, rather than just the stated goal, for Whitman College's annual security report is to document the truth even when the truth breaks the illusion of safety. The report lists six on-campus rapes and 1 off-campus rape for last year, but these numbers are believed to be lower than the actual number of rapes.
“Pretty much all the numbers you’re going to see … are all statistics that come from our pink forms,” said Barbara Maxwell. Maxwell is Whitman’s sexual misconduct response coordinator. She is responsible for distribution of Sexual Misconduct Incident Report Forms or ‘pink forms,’ as they are known to students.

These forms are an anonymous, confidential way for anyone to report incidents they have either experienced or have heard from a friend, student or other acquaintance Space is provided to describe the incident, and several resources for victims are listed including the Health Center, Walla Walla Police and the dean of students.

Maxwell stressed the importance of students knowing that disclosing on a pink form does not imply any action being taken by the College.

“The pink forms do nothing,” she said. “I use them for two reasons: one, for the statistics. The other, it gives me a sense of who our students are confiding in.” One conclusion this has led to is that Residence Life members especially hear about incidents but very rarely fill out forms to report them. This fall Maxwell has spoken to residence directors about the importance of disclosing for statistical purposes.
I applaud this effort even though it doesn't result in the investigations of individuals because it gives the college a more accurate picture of the problem which in turn can lead to more effective policies that have the potential to reduce the actual number of rapes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:41 AM   0 comments links to this post


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