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November 6, 2013

Myths, Realities, and Common Sense at Texas

"We should be seeing 12,500 cases a year."

So spoke Jennifer Hammat, Title IX coordinator for the University of Texas. As FIRE's Peter Bonilla tweeted, "That quote put differently: 'we should be seeing 250-300 rapes/sexual assaults per week.'" Does anyone (apart, it seems, from Hammat) believe that there are 300 rapes each week at UT?

To provide some statistical context, consider that FBI crime figures for the most recent year (2012) indicate that in New York state (population 19.5 million) there were 2848 instances of forcible rape. In the state of Texas--including the university, of course, and with a total population of 26.1 million--there were 7711 instances of forcible rape. Nationally, there were 84,376 rapes in the United States. So according to Hammat, her campus--all by itself--experienced an amount equivalent to around 15 percent of the alleged sexual assaults in the entire United States. Coming from a crank on the street, such a claim would be laughed off. But Hammat is a high-ranking policymaking figure. She earns just under $100,000 anually, and serves as the University of Texas employee responsible for coordinating the institution's handling of Title IX complaints.

It's distressing but not surprising that Hammat's assertion passed without challenge from Daily Texan reporter Jordan Rudner. (The article provides no statistical context, either, beyond allowing Hammat to cite unspecified "national studies" claiming 25 percent of college women--and 16.7 percent of college men--are raped.) Far too often reporters simply accept at face value such preposterous assertions from campus anti-due process activists.

Three possible explanations exist for Hammat's odd public statement:

(1) The University of Texas is the violent crime capital of the United States. 

(2) Hammat is such an ideologue that she's incapable of interpreting statistical data that contradicts her preconceived worldview.

(3) Hammat--and the activists that she cites--have redefined (and broadened) the meaning of rape and sexual assault to such an extent that it bears no relationship to how these commonly referenced terms are defined either under most states' criminal law, or in most media/cultural portrayals.

For the record: I don't believe the University of Texas is the violent crime capital of the United States. 

By the way, empowering Title IX coordinators is one of the key demands of the Office for Civil Rights, both in the 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter (which orders colleges to erode due process protections for students accused of sexual assault on campus) and in the Montana "blueprint" (which seeks, among other things, to institute a requirement that colleges report to the government protected speech, both inside the classroom and anyplace else on campus, if that protected speech deals with a sexual topic and prompts even one person to file a complaint).

It's not reassuring, therefore, to see that the point person at one of the nation's leading public universities is a figure who seems incapable of honestly presenting data related to the issues with which she's supposed to deal.

Comments (2)

Xander:

Um, there were, according to the University of Texas, Austin Fact Book, more than 26,000 women enrolled at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the university in the fall semesters for both 2012 and 2013.

It would almost be worth calling the university to confirm that their Title IX coordinator was in fact quoted as saying--and that it was the university's official position that it probably was the case--that HALF of the UT women would be sexually assaulted. Even if you discount for 10% of the assaults to be against men, or that some women would have multiple successful assaults against them, let's still see if the UT officials will back her statement that UT is such a dangerous place that HALF of all women are in such danger.

Jay:

KC, Xander,

It might be fun as a bit of monkeywrenching to see a group strive for just one thing: a sidebar next to the USA Today college review articles listing campuses with the most rapes as determined by the 1:4 calculation.

Or even an ad on USA Today whichever week they print those sorts of reviews.

I'd kickstart into that fund just to see all the walkbacks from colleges reacting to those ads.

(The local state university is also in a dozen or more rapes a day category, and yet, I never read about it in the paper.)

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