The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 53.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Rape has become an epidemic in the college environmenmt

"She deserved it."

"What did she expect? After all, she went to his house."

"She wasn't a virgin, so no harm was done."

"He bought her dinner. She owed him."

"She just `cried rape' later, because she felt guilty about having sex."

Rape is a campus epidemic. It devastates victims, both physically and emotionally. It cripples our ability to trust each other. It has spread from the street into the bedroom as acquaintance rape has finally come out of the closet. Consider some research findings:

O+ More than half of all college women have been victims of some form of sexual violence.

O+ 1 in 4 women surveyed were victims of rape or attempted rape.

O+ 1 in 12 male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definitions of rape or attempted rape.

O+ 84 percent of those raped knew their attacker.

Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States, and it has the lowest conviction rate. This is largely due to ignorance. People rape who are unaware that they are raping. People are raped and are unaware that something illegal has happened. Jurors and judges believe myths that victims deserved to be raped because of their inadvisable dress or behavior. But ignorance and poor judgment are not rapeable offenses.

Only through education and prevention can we begin to fight the epidemic. We need to begin on campus, through student and administrative involvement. An ideal program might include mandatory rape workshops for all incoming students, a generously financed on-campus rape education and prevention group, abundant information on rape distributed to students, stricter procedures for dealing with offenders, free self-defense and assertiveness training classes, and so on.

MIT's existing rape programs, however, are limited. The Dean's Office provides rape counseling. The Campus Police offer an escort service and a freshman packet. Perhaps there is more, but we conduct rape workshops on campus, and we have never heard about it.

Clearly, MIT needs to expand its rape program. Students need to join together for unity and power in eliminating rape through education and prevention. If we can create our own workshops and education campaigns, we can begin to eliminate rape from MIT. At the same time, we can convince MIT to fund the programs that we desperately need and that many other campuses have already. A group of students is beginning to form such a group, the MIT Rape Education & Prevention Program, and we need your input.

Eliot Levine '89->

Carol Waldmann '89->