Campus Gang Rape: Party Games? (Test)



Table of Contents

Taking Unfair Advantage
Rape: Not By Strangers Only
The Legacy of Acquaintance Rape
Are College Women Especially Vulnerable?
Fraternities and Gang Rape
The Role of Alcohol and Drugs
The Role of Pornography
Campus Reactions
Institutional Responses
Some Legal Remedies for Victims
What Should An Institution Do If A Campus Gang Rape Occurs?
How To Prevent Campus Gang Rape Incidents
Selected Resources

The events described below are not isolated or rare occurrences. These experiences—acquaintance gang rape—happen all too frequently at fraternity and/or other campus parties at colleges and universities across the country.


    …The 17-year-old first year student went to the fraternity “little sister” rush party with two of her roommates. The roommates left early without her. She was trying to get a ride home when a fraternity brother told her he would take her after the party ended. While she waited, two other fraternity members took her into a bedroom to “discuss little sister matters.”  The door was closed and one of the brothers stood blocking the exit. They told her that in order to become a little sister (an honorary member) she would have to have sex with a fraternity member. She was frightened, fearing they would physically harm her if she refused. She could see no escape. Each of the brothers had sex with her, as did a third who had been hiding in the room. During the next two hours a succession of men went into the room. There were never less than three men with her, sometimes more. After they let her go, a fraternity brother drove her home. He told her not to feel bad about the incident because another woman had also been “upstairs” earlier that night.—(occurred at a large state university)


    …It was her first fraternity party. The beer flowed freely, and she had much more to drink than she had planned. It was hot and crowded and the party spread out all over the house, so that when three men asked her to go upstairs, she went with them. They took her into a bedroom, locked the door, and began to undress her. Groggy with alcohol, her feeble protests were ignored as the three men raped her. When they finished, they put her in the hallway, naked, locking her clothes in the bedroom.--(occurred at a small eastern liberal arts college)


    …A 19-year-old woman student was out on a date with her boyfriend and another couple. They were all drinking beer and after going back to the boyfriend’s dorm room, they smoked two marijuana cigarettes. The other couple left and the woman and her boyfriend had sex. The woman fell asleep and the next thing she knew she awoke with a man she didn’t know on top of her trying to force her into having sex. A witness said the man was in the hall with two other men when the woman’s boyfriend came out of his room and invited them to have sex with his unconscious girlfriend. The witness declined to participate but the other men joined the boyfriend and later, two more men, in raping the woman.—(occurred at a small midwestern college)


    …No one was sure how many fraternity brothers had had sex with the young woman the night before. It was at least five, maybe seven or eight. Accounts of the incident differ. The victim, who had been drinking and taking drugs at the party, said that when she asked for a place to sleep the brothers carried her upstairs. She remembers having sex with one of them willingly. Then one by one, a group of men had sex with her. She pleaded throughout to be left alone. The men insist that she was sober, alert, and willing, actually encouraging them.—(occurred at an Ivy League institution)

Taking Unfair Advantage

    “If it is found that sexual attitudes and actions on this campus are such that human beings are being subjected to degradations and that society as a whole is being degraded, a university should be the first to discover it and to plan to execute programs to discourage such behaviors.”
--University president, after a gang rape incident

“Men can drink with their friends and not worry about being taken advantage of. They are not victimized by their friends and peers—they are not raped, sodomized, or otherwise violated. Women who drink do not have that luxury. If a woman should become drunk at a fraternity or other campus party, the men at the party have several options: they can choose to ignore her, they can help her or they can exploit her. At too many college parties the men are choosing to take advantage of her.
--Conversation with Leslie R. Wolfe, Executive Director          Center for Women Policy Studies
    When the Project on the Status of Education of Women, at the then-Association of American Colleges and Universities first heard of incidents such as those described above, we initially believed that they were isolated occurrences. However, as we gathered more information we began to realize that these events were not single aberrations but events that happen all too commonly on too many campuses. The Project has identified more than 50 incidents occurring at a wide range of institutions: public, private, religiously affiliated, Ivy League, large and small.1   On some campuses, Project staff were told “it happens almost every week.” Apparently, no institution is immune from the potential problem of “fraternity gang rape” or “party gang rape.”
    The vast majority of male students do not gang rape. The fact that some do should not be ignored. This paper is a first attempt to describe the phenomenon of gang rape as it sometimes occurs on campuses, some of the causes that bring it about, its impact on the victim and other students, how to deal with it, and most importantly, now to prevent its future occurrence.
    When we began to read about rape, we found studies and materials about individual stranger rape, stranger gang rape (as in the New Bedford, MA incident several years ago) and “date” rape. We were unable to find any research on what we began to call ”acquaintance gang rape.”  The few mentions of campus gang rape in magazine or newspaper articles that do exist came from the Project.

    The great majority of the reported incidents occurred at fraternity parties, although, in some instances, gang rapes have also occurred in residence halls. A number have also involved college athletes.

    The scenario is basically the same: a fraternity holds a party. In many cases but by no means all, a young woman often has had too much to drink and/or too many drugs. Therefore she may be unaware that the “friendly” persuasion of the brothers is actually a planned pursuit of easy prey. By the time she recognizes her predicament, her confusion has changed to fear and panic, and escape seems impossible. She is unable to protest or her protests are ignored. Anywhere from two to eleven or more men rape her.

    It appears that on some campuses gang rapes are common occurrences. Some fraternities, in “invitations” for their parties, even advertise the event with “playful” euphemisms such as “gang bang” or “pulling train” (which refers to the men lining up like train cars to take turns). Far from viewing this behavior as rape, they seem to regard it as normal party behavior.

    In fact, in almost all instances, the men involved are unaware that their behavior is gang rape; in their minds they are “only” engaged in group sex with a “willing” partner. The fact that the woman may be intoxicated (even to the point where she cannot give consent) is viewed by some participants in gang rape as meaning that “she asked for it.”  The woman’s ineffective protests may be viewed as “consent”; even if her protests are vigorous, her “no” is interpreted as “yes.”

    All too often the victim does not report the incident to anyone in authority until much later, if at all; campus administrators are much more likely to hear about incidents through the “grapevine.”  In all cases, the effect on the victim’s self-esteem is devastating. She tends to blame herself, in part, for going to the party in the first place, drinking alcohol, not resisting enough, etc. The victim often leaves school.

    Whether these incidents are increasing in frequency is not known; what is clear is that these instances are increasingly being reported by the women involved. Unlike the men, who may characterize what happened as a series of voluntary sexual encounters, the women involved see it very differently—as violation of their bodies.


    “No person asks to be hurt or degraded, just as no one asks to be robbed because they are carrying money in their pocket. No woman—whatever her behavior—“deserves” to be raped by one or seven or eleven men. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist(s), not the victim.”
--Ehrhart and Sandler


“Date rape is common and gang rapes happen more than anyone would like to think”
--Ed King, Director of Residential Life at Bradley University (IA) addressing the Western Regional Greek Conference, April, 1985


A faculty advisor to the Interfraternity Council said that after the gang rape several fraternity members came to him and said that it (the gang rape) was not an isolated instance.
--Reported in local paper after campus gang rape


    This behavior is not a new phenomenon on campuses.  In years past when this type of incident occurred, the women involved were often described as “nymphomaniacs.”  Although the terminology may have changed over time, in many cases the “blame the victim” attitude has remained”  “she had too much to drink,” or “she never should have gone upstairs.”  Thus, some institutions have in part felt justified in ignoring the problem. Behavior that in the outside community would be considered a serious criminal offense, i.e., rape, may in the academic setting, in many instances, not be viewed as rape but as private relations between men and women. It may be excused with a “boys will be boys” attitude, justifying the behavior as “just a prank” or “youthful hijinks” or with the belief that the woman “asked for it.”  Even when the behavior is recognized by the institution as rape, it may be viewed as a single aberration on the campus and not as part of a larger pattern.

    When these incidents are reported, institutions are often unsure how to handle the situation. Concern for the institution’s image, desire to shield the rape victim from further unwanted publicity, and fear of expensive lawsuits brought by the victim or countersuits by the fraternity are among considerations which may influence administrators in dealing with campus gang rape. Institutional responses have been uneven at best. Many schools do not have formal policies or procedures that can deal adequately with acquaintance gang rape and therefore they are at somewhat of a loss as to how to handle the situation. In these cases, responses have ranged from no action at all to suspending the fraternity brothers involved and/or requiring them to seek counseling, asking them to read materials about rape and write an essay about it, or putting the whole fraternity on “social probation”—prohibiting the entire fraternity from having parties for a specified time. In most instances the men involved receive little or no punishment despite the fact that they may have been guilty of criminal acts.
    Because the vast majority of gang rape incidents go unreported, university officials may believe that an absence of reported rapes indicates the absence of a problem. This denial may subtly encourage the practice to continue by being construed as tacit tolerance. Indeed, colleges and universities need to be aware of the potential problem of fraternity and acquaintance gang rape on their campus so they can develop effective prevention policies and programs and deal with incidents if prevention should be unsuccessful.

    Institutions need information on this subject if they are to deal with fraternity gang rape effectively. The academic community has always been concerned with education in the broadest sense—the values that students learn about life at large. Attitudes toward sexuality are part of those values. Preventing acquaintance rape and gang rape on campus often hinges on students’ awareness of their own sexual rights and responsibilities and those of others—the right to say “no” and the responsibility to accept “no” for an answer.

    The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness of campus gang rape; discuss the role of alcohol, drugs, and pornography in fraternity gang rape; highlight successful model programs for rape prevention activities; and provide practical recommendations for policies and procedures to deal with fraternity gang rape should it occur.

Rape: Not By Strangers Only

    “There is little argument about the events that took place in the early morning hours of (date).  What is at issue here is the naming of the event.  We are asked to believe that six boys engaged in sexual activities with the same woman on the same night and a wonderful time was had by all. …What happened that night is at best a sexual shame, at worst it is a criminal act of violence having little or nothing to do with sex.”
--        Editor, campus newspaper

    Although much has been written about acquaintance rape, there has been virtually nothing written about the acquaintance gang rape.  Therefore, in order to understand some of the dynamics involved, the problems of acquaintance rape are first explored in the following discussion.

    The popular conception of rape in which a stranger hides along a dark deserted path is in many cases not the only way it happens.  It is estimated that in 50-75 percent of all rapes the victim knows her attacker  2—hence the term “acquaintance rape.”  He could be a neighbor, fellow student, friend, employer, or lover.  Indeed, women are far more vulnerable to acquaintance rape than stranger rape—the victim may trust her attacker; she may not realize immediately what is happening and she may feel reluctant to take defensive action for fear of harming someone she knows.

    Stranger rape typically involves anger and the urge to dominate and degrade—it is a show of power through sex.  Acquaintance rape is more typically the use of power to obtain sex.  In both forms, however, women are viewed by the rapist as weak and vulnerable, as someone not worthy of the ordinary respect one gives to one’s fellow human beings.

    The view that rape is committed only by strangers explains why the victims of acquaintance rape sometimes may not view themselves as having been raped at all.  Thus a student may answer “no” to the question “have you ever been raped?” but answer “yes” when asked if an acquaintance or date has ever forced her to have sex against her will.  Similarly, some males who deny ever having raped anyone nevertheless admit to having “forced sex” on a date.  In one study, over 4 percent of male college students admitted to the use of violence to obtain sex, while an additional 27 percent had used lesser degrees of physical and emotional force when a woman was unwilling to have sex with them.  3  

The Legacy of Acquaintance Rape

    “(A Woman) who had been gang raped when she was seventeen by a group of fraternity brothers who had ejaculated all over her, felt for two years afterward that she could not wash the smell of semen out of her hair.”
        Susan Brownmiller,
        Against Our Will  4

    Acquaintance rape is in many ways even more psychologically damaging than other sexual assaults.  The feelings that a rape survivor expresses—shame, guilt, fear, disbelief, lowered self-esteem—are often even stronger in the case of acquaintance rape  5 in part because the rapist was someone she believed would not harm her.  She may be so upset as to “deny” the experience in some instances, initially acting as if nothing has happened.

    While the stranger rape victim often develops fears of the unfamiliar, the acquaintance rape victim, however, is likely to find her own sense of trust in friendship destroyed.  The stranger rape victim can attribute what happened to having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In contrast, the victim of acquaintance rape is far more likely to blame herself because she initially opted to date the man (or attend a campus party, accept a ride from a “friend,” stop for a casual conversation of allow someone into her home).  6   She may doubt her own judgement and may find it difficult to trust others because the assailant was a friend or fellow student whom she had trusted initially.  She is frequently reluctant to tell family, friends, school authorities, or the police about the attack.

    Furthermore, a victim of acquaintance rape often finds that people are less likely to believe in her innocence and/or to understand what happened to her.  They may be less than sympathetic because they hold her at least party responsible for the incident.

    The woman who has been forced to have sex against her will is often concerned about having to see her assailant(s) again.  It is not unusual for a woman student who is raped to transfer to another school or to drop out altogether.

Are College Women Especially Vulnerable to Acquaintance Rape?

    “If it wasn’t rape, was it proper conduct?  If you conclude that it was proper conduct, is this the state of our nation’s morality?  Is this the attitude that young men have toward women?”
--    University information officer, after a gang rape occurred

    College women are especially vulnerable to acquaintance rape for a number of reasons.  They are at risk emotionally—young women away from home for the first time are often unsure how to handle or protect themselves in new situations.  Usually, their social circles expand greatly at a rapid rate.  They may not have developed the skills needed to balance independence and security.  At the same time, college men are also insecure and may be seeking confirmation of their “manhood” via sexual behavior.  Additionally, parental restrictions are replaced with the freedom of college life.

    College women are at risk demographically—acquaintance rape happens most frequently among those between the ages of 15 and 24.  It tends to happen on the first, second, or third date, says one rape crisis counselor, partly because college students have more sexual freedom now and expectations are higher.7  Claire Walsh, director of sexual assault recovery services at the University of Florida states, “Some men assume that if a (college) woman is modern, i.e., sexually liberated, she’ll automatically want to have sex.  And if she doesn’t, they may feel cheated or used.  Often they personalize the rejection, based on their own insecurities regarding maleness.  They become threatened and angry and aggressive in an attempt to regain or achieve feelings of adequacy and control.”  8  In one study involving 432 adolescents, 54 percent of the males and 42 percent of the females agreed that forced sexual intercourse was permissible under some circumstances (if the girl led the boy on, turned him on, or said
“yes” and then changed her mind).  9  Thus, a sizeable number of young men and women believe that rape is sometimes acceptable behavior.

    Still another series of studies of U. S. and Canadian male college students reported that 35 percent of the male subjects thought they might commit rape if they could be certain they would not be caught.  10

    Several campus studies have examined acquaintance rape in general (although not the acquaintance gang rape).  One study measured the incidence of acquaintance rape, noting that over half of the women students surveyed reported experiencing sexual aggression—verbal threats, physical coercion or violence—at some time from someone they knew.  One in eight had been raped, although many did not use that word to label the experience.  11

    In another study, 75 percent of freshmen women said they had experienced sexual aggression.  Incidents were more likely to have occurred during their senior year of high school or first year of college, on the first date, in either the victim’s or the rapist’s room.12  A study of 200 college sophomore and junior women reported that 15 percent had clothing unfastened against their will; 35 percent had their genital area touched against their will’, and only 43 percent had not been forced to do anything against their will.  13

Fraternities And Acquaintance Gang Rape

    “For many…males…the transition to college represents a first step in a struggle for a kind of ‘manhood’ from which women are viewed as objects of conquest—worthy, but decidedly inferior, adversaries.  The idea of women as equals is strange and inconvenient at best, terrifying at worst. Unfortunately, most colleges and universities provide refuges ideally suited to reinforce these prejudices: fraternities.”
        --Andrew Merton, University of New Hampshire  14

   “The motivation of men or boys who rape in groups is generally agreed to be somewhat different from that of solitary rapists.  Boys gang-rape for each other, in a kind of frenzied machismo, to prove themselves, to show off, to be part of a gang, or, at best, out of fear of being ostracized if they don’t.  They do it as a dare of a joke….Group rape has traditionally been considered less perverted than solitary rape because of the assumption that gang-raping is some kind of proof of masculinity, a sort of rite of passage.”
   --        Helen Benedict, Recovery  15

   “Whether all the other men who rape—the fraternity and school kids who gang-rape…--fit into any of these classifications (of solitary rapists) is not known.  They may simply be men who do not see women as human beings with a right to say no.”
--        Helen Benedict, Recovery  16

    In the last few years fraternities have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, many believe as a result of a swing towards conservatism generally among young people.  Fraternities seem to offer young men structure, friendship, formality, and ritual at a time in their lives when hey are looking for just such guidance.  They also appeal to some men because they provide an intimate atmosphere in the somewhat impersonal setting of many institutions.  

    The fraternity system on campus brings with it advantages and disadvantages for students and the institution as whole.  Fraternity members point to the encouragement given them in study habits, social service projects and organizational development.  Some fraternities perform worthwhile public services such as tutorial services, “big brother” programs, etc.  On the other hand, many believe that these positive activities and programs can be achieved outside the fraternity framework just as well.

    Often the social life of students revolves around fraternity parties and on some campuses, institutions provide few alternatives.  Fraternity parties can become a model for students’ social life, i.e. large group functions with alcohol, loud music, etc., although in some instances, they may lead to vandalism and sexual abuse.

    The fraternities’ role in campus social life and the “animal house” behavior associated with some fraternity parties appeals to some young men.  They may feel insecure and threatened by the more independent and confident young women of the ‘80s who may compete with men for grades and jobs.  These young men at eighteen and nineteen may have an unrealistic view of women reinforced by sex-role stereotyping and the media.  A dean of students at a private college describes it as follows: “Let’s face it, eighteen year old girls are older than eighteen year-old guys.  These women are telling them to pick up the junk they leave in the hall, to quiet down, to behave.  The more mature guys learn to deal with it, and end up making friends among the women….The ones who can’t handle it…run away.  To fraternities.  Here at last, they think, their fantasies will come true.  But what they’re really doing is retreating to a place where they will see women only when and where they want to.”  17

    Limited research on men who join fraternities suggests that they feel less in control of their lives and believe that what happens to them is often determined by fate or chance.  Thus, they do not always feel responsible for their behavior.  They may also be more likely to seek attention, and want to dominate others.  18  In a closed environment such as a fraternity, these negative values are more likely to be acted upon.

    Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in depth the pros and cons of the fraternity system, it cannot be denied that nearly all recent reported gang rape incidents have involved fraternities.  This section looks at fraternity gang rape specifically, but it should be noted that these incidents are not limited to fraternity house settings.  They happen at off-campus parties and in dormitories; they involve other groups of male students.  The dynamics are essentially the same.

    The evidence is startling: reports from some campuses indicate that at least a few fraternities have actually planned a “gang bang” as a part of the weekend’s activities.  Are fraternities, seen by some as “bastions of conservative locker-room attitudes”19 fostering an increasing climate of hostility and/or sexual aggression against women?  Undoubtedly, experts say, men in certain group situations will do things they wouldn’t’ ordinarily do as individuals.20  Many experts believe that a man in a gang rape situation may be acting out not only hostility toward women, but expressing strong emotions that he feels for other men.  Often one man is the “leader”; the others willingly follow him.  “Men rape for other men,” says Claire Walsh.  “It’s a way of maintaining the myth of macho masculinity; a way to confirm their feelings of sexual inadequacy.  If a man in the room didn’t participate, his sexual capacity could be called into question.”  21 Gang rape is the “ultimate proof” of men’s power—they are dominant over women.  Sex is not seen as an expression of love and friendship but as a way of expressing dominance and/or only as an end in itself.

    If the fraternities constituted a state of the union, it would be a very small one, with about half the population of Vermont.  If, in a state that size, 50 confirmed gang rapes took place within two or three years, impartial observers might begin to wonder about the place.”
--        Andrew Merton, University of New Hampshire  22

   “Fraternities are sporting clubs, and their game is women.”
        --Associate Professor at liberal arts college  23

    Individual feelings of responsibility for their violence by the gang rapists may be further minimized by the group dynamics of the rape.  The group develops together a common sense of masculinity and power which may also reduce their inhibitions.  Research exploring the characteristics of “rape prone” societies tends to support this view: one such characteristic is the existence of special men’s clubs.  24  Special men’s clubs on campus, e.g. fraternities, may foster a whole range of antisocial behavior such as rowdiness, alcohol misuse/abuse, hazing, sexual harassment, sexual aggression, and rape. These behaviors persist in part because within the fraternity males engaging in them are not socially ostracized from their brothers.  In fact, these behaviors are reinforced and encouraged by the positive attention they receive.  The brothers’ reinforcement of each other is stronger than the campus’ disapproval.

    Voyeurism is often a part of the acquaintance gang rape.  At one campus, brothers not involved directly in the rape watched through a peephole; at another campus, pictures were taken.  As still another campus, brothers would raise ladders to the window of other brothers’ rooms who were having sex with women.

    In almost all the cases of fraternity gang rape, many more brothers knew what was going on than actually participated but none that we know of interceded or went to the authorities.  Often, the “bonds of brotherhood” prohibit “getting their brothers into trouble”; therefore, witnesses may remain silent or even lie.  One victim was told by a fraternity member not involved in her rape that he was indeed her “friend” and would like to help her (in testifying in a college investigation); but he didn’t want to get his brothers in trouble—he had to “stick up” for them.  At another institution a male student member of the disciplinary board noted that nearly all the cases brought before the board concerned fraternity brothers who commonly covered up each others’ indiscretions.  He described the role of the fraternity: “By using the (fraternities) as a crutch, a sanctioned way of lying to protect the guilty, individuals never need to account for themselves.  Those men learned a lesson: no matter how sleazy your actions there is always the fraternity to hide behind.”  25

    Increasingly, however, fraternities and the values and behaviors they encourage are being closely scrutinized by many institutions.  Administrators are beginning to question whether the disadvantages of the fraternity system are outweighing the advantages.  Indeed, after careful study of the quality of campus life, several schools have disbanded fraternities (and sororities) altogether.  Others are monitoring more carefully and/or limiting fraternity activities.26  One institution’s faculty report on the future of the fraternity/sorority system on their campus stated that fraternities are “inherently divisive.”  In the committee members’ view the benefits of fraternity membership were limited to the members of the fraternity itself rather than of value to the community as a whole.  27

The Role of Alcohol and Drugs

    “My past was brought up like I was an alcoholic nymphomaniac.  The guys in question didn’t have to go through any of this.  I was the victim and I was made to feel like the guilty person.”
--        Campus gang rape victim

        As previously noted, alcohol and/or drugs are almost always involved in campus gang rape incidents.  Indeed, alcohol and/or drugs were involved in every one of the fraternity gang rapes identified by the Project.  Although not a direct cause of rape, the mood-altering effects of these substances apparently help to set the stage by reducing men’s inhibitions and helping them to excuse or rationalize their abuse behavior.  It weakens a woman’s ability to assess dangerous situations, and also lessens her capacity to take effective steps to safeguard herself.

        A woman’s use of alcohol or drugs, however, may implicate her in the eyes of others an “accessory” to the crime or at least a “willing” participant.  Again, she is held accountable for what happened to her despite the fact that she was participating in the same drinking behavior as the men.  Men can drink with their friends and not worry about being taken advantage of.  They are not victimized by their friends and peers—they are not raped, sodomized, or otherwise violated.  Women who drink do not have that luxury. If a woman should become drunk at a fraternity or other campus party, the men at the party have several options: they can choose to ignore her, they can help her or they can exploit her.  At too many college parties the men are choosing to take advantage of her.  28

    A study at the University of Minnesota showed that while drinking among college students was down slightly overall, use of alcohol was highest among 18-year-old students, 97 percent of whom said they drink.  Drinking was reported to be heavier and more frequent among students who said they identified with a collegiate subculture—participation in campus life and activities—and among those whose grade point averages were below a C+.  Students who lived in residence halls or sorority or fraternity houses were twice as likely to be heavy drinkers as any other group except students who shared off-campus housing.  29  Many fraternities glorify drinking and may deliberately encourage women to overdrink.  At one institution, members of one fraternity kept a chart that listed the number of beers it took to seduce certain women.

    On some campuses, only alcohol is served at fraternity parties; no other beverage is available.  Campus control of alcohol at parties is often     inadequate or absent.  However, a growing number of colleges and universities are proposing and enforcing stricter regulations regarding the use of alcohol on campus.  Many are also developing programs to deal with students’ abuse of alcohol.

The Role of Pornography

    “Women and men do not receive an equal education because outside the classroom women are perceived not as sovereign beings but as prey.  The growing incidence of rape on and off campus may not be fed by the proliferation of pornographic magazines and X-rated films available to young males in fraternities and student unions; but it is certainly occurring in a context of widespread images of sexual violence against women, on billboards and so-called high art.”
        --Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, Silence  30

    Pornography on campus may be another factor relating to fraternity party rapes.  Although it is difficult to show a direct link, and it is beyond the scope of this paper to do so, most experts on rape believe that pornography promotes the attitude that women exist solely for men’s sexual gratification and pleasure.  Further, because of the exploitative images of rape in pornographic materials, some men are able to believe that a rape victim is not being coerced and that women are always willing participants.  On some campuses, many fraternity houses subscribe to pornographic cable TV; others show X-rated films on a frequent basis.  The effect of these materials on male students may contribute to a lessening of respect for their female colleagues and make it easier for them to treat women as objects, as the victim of a “gang bang” and as the realization of a pornographic fantasy.

Campus Reactions

    Aftermath of campus gang rape at a state university: the fraternity adviser to the Interfraternity Council quit in disgust; more than 100 faculty members signed a petition calling for expulsion proceedings against the 6 students identified; a state legislator criticized the university’s handling of it; women’s groups denounced the refusal to prosecute; campus and local newspapers ran numerous front-page stories for some time; the woman student contracted herpes and also dropped out of school.
--        Account from a student newspaper

    “Several dozen women were met with jeers and boos when they marched along the campus’ Fraternity Row after a gang rape.  The women carried signs, one of which read ‘It’s still rape, even when you’re rich, white, and in a frat.’  Taunts came from the student crowd along Fraternity Row: ‘Gang-rape.  Gang-rape.’ ‘Let’s rape her.’ And ‘I’ll take that one.’”
--        Account in a local paper

    Fraternity gang rape is perhaps the most notorious and blatant instance of acquaintance rape on campuses.  As such, reactions to incidents on campus are often highly emotional and conflicted.  Some students and faculty may be appalled that this has happened on their campus.  Others will defend the fraternity system and decry the bad publicity caused by the incident.  And many will hold the victim accountable for the incident.  Women and men have often been socialized to believe that women are responsible for the outcome of sexual encounters; i.e., male sexuality can be controlled by women, and should a woman be sexually victimized, it is believed to be ultimately her own fault.

    After a gang rape incident at a large state university, letters poured into the offices of the student newspaper, the majority of which expressed indignation at the negative publicity the fraternity was receiving.  “Not much though, was given to the woman,” said the then-editor of the paper.  She turned out to be a (first-year student), kind of overweight, having a hard time adjusting to college life.  She wanted to be liked, and slept with several members of the fraternity prior to the incident, so she was both an easy mark and someone who drew little sympathy.  People did not look on her as a person in trouble.  Nobody was concerned with how it felt to not even know what may have been done to her while she lay there unconscious.  She left school, and everyone focused on the fraternity.”  Another victim of a fraternity “gang bang,” this one at a small eastern college, describes her treatment at a disciplinary hearing for the fraternity: “My past was brought up like I was an alcoholic nymphomaniac.  The guys in question didn’t’ have to go through any of this.  I was the victim and I was made to feel like the guilty person.”  31

    Although other women on campus are usually frightened and demoralized by reports of a gang rape, the victim is often criticized as sharply by other women as by men.  By blaming the victim of the rape, some women can reassure themselves that this would not have happened to them because they would not have acted the way the victim did (i.e., gone upstairs, drank too much, not protested enough, etc.).

    A gang rape perpetrated by fellow students in a campus setting is a profound violation of the trusting and collegial atmosphere that characterizes the academic community.  It sends shock waves reverberating through every aspect of campus life.  The effect of such an incident on the community is often polarizing, with volatile issues such as men’s and women’s traditional sexual behavior hotly debated.  On some campuses where a fraternity party gang rape has surfaced, little else is talked about or written about in the campus newspapers for weeks.  Student petitions have been circulated and demonstrations and protests have been held by fraternities, campus women’s organizations, and other students.  Often the administration’s handling of the situation becomes the focus of just as much debate and attention.  It is in the handling of such extreme incidents that inadequacies in judicial procedures and administrative protocol can often be identified.

Institutional Responses

    …One of the attributes of a truly liberally educated person is a concern for other people. Presumably a liberal education would enable a person to empathize with another, to have compassion and respect for the rights of other persons.
--        Stanley Paulson, former dean, Pennsylvania State University

    The actions and reactions of the campus administration following a reported party gang rape are critical to a just outcome for the victim and the assailants and to the recovery of the academic community. As stated earlier, there are several concerns that the administration must balance. One is the institution’s responsibility to provide support for the victim: to see that if she requests anonymity her wishes are honored, to provide her with information on her rights and her alternative courses of action, to provide adequate medical care and counseling services if she wishes, and to support and aid her in dealing with police investigations and/or legal actions.

    An important concern of the institution is, of course, its image. Institutions may hesitate to take specific actions for fear of drawing more public attention and negative publicity, treating rape on campus more as a public relations problem. However, in many cases the consistent and timely response of an institution to the situation can ameliorate many of the complications that can make the ordeal even more painful for the victim and others involved. At one Ivy League school, the poor handling of a gang rape resulted in a campus investigation of the administrative procedures that were followed and an eventual formal apology to the victim by the institution. The president acknowledged that the university’s policy of almost total secrecy about the gang rape led to rumors and gossip that repeatedly swept the campus, worsening an already distressing situation for all the individuals involved and for the university as a whole.

    One problem institutions may have is that many fraternities have an agreement with institutions whereby fraternities are obligated to “accept collective responsibility” for the activities of individual members if the misbehavior by these individuals is knowingly tolerated by the members of the fraternity and the behavior violates the institution’s rules. In some instances of gang rape institutions have been reluctant to punish all members of the fraternity when only some participated in a rape. The punishment may then be watered down to something like “social probation”—no more parties for a specified length of time.

    The institution’s fear of becoming involved in expensive litigation also affects its handling of a gang rape incident. In dealing with allegations of sexual assault, institutions may find that their judicial procedures are inadequate to deal with such serious breaches of conduct, i.e., most campus judicial procedures are not set up to deal with an incident that is a felony. Due process must be observed; in some instances individuals and the fraternity itself have sued the institution, the latter when the university revoked its campus charter.

Some Legal Remedies For Victims  32

    State laws defining rape vary from state to state. Moreover, in addition to, or instead of filing rape charges, victims may be able to charge sexual assault and/or sexual abuse. Unfortunately, criminal charges concerning acquaintance gang rape are difficult to file and successfully prosecute. Additionally, if the woman had been drinking, she may have diminished recall or perception, or she may be viewed as witness without credibility. Even if alcohol or drugs were not involved, prosecutors may still be reluctant to press charges because they feel the case is not likely to succeed or because they too may believe many of the myths surrounding rape and blame the woman for “allowing” it to happen, although prosecutors, juries, and judges are increasingly becoming aware that rape cannot and should not be blamed on the victim.

Civil Remedies

    In recent years there has been a growing body of law in which rape victims sue rapists for damages under civil law. Victims may be able to sue the perpetrator(s) for civil damages even if criminal charges are not filed or are dismissed, because the standards of proof are less strict for civil cases than in criminal cases.

    Victims might be able to sue for personal injury,  33 and may seek compensation for the full range of damages done to them, including pain and suffering. The victim may also sue the perpetrator(s) under civil theories of assault and battery or other intentional torts (civil wrongs) such as intentional infliction of emotional distress. Should the perpetrators be minors, their parents might also be liable.

    The possibility that victims will bring third-party liability civil suits against institutions is growing. In cases of stranger rape, institutions have been held responsible for negligent security measures that have permitted students to be raped and/or assaulted in dormitories, parking lots, classrooms, or elsewhere on institutional property. Thus, it may be possible for students to bring charges against the institution for not warning them against known hazardous situations (e.g. some campus parties) or not taking actions to correct known hazardous situations on campus. Schools might also be sued for “a breach of duty of reasonable care.” However, students victimized by rape may be less likely to sue an institution if the institution has handled the incident fairly. Schools that treat the victim poorly or otherwise aggravate the situation might also be liable for inflicting additional damages.
    Fraternities themselves and individual fraternity members may also be liable, in some cases, to civil suits. The rapists, the house president, the party organizers and/or the “houseparent” might be held to be legally responsible for letting the party get out of control. In addition to suing the individuals involved in a gang rape, the victim may also be able to sue the fraternity chapter, the national organization, and the school itself for damages arising from the rape, depending on the circumstances.

What Should An Institution Do If A Campus Gang Rape Occurs?

    “The point needs to be made as strongly as possible, that group sex, whether voluntary or otherwise, is simply not an approved fraternity row activity.”
--        Editorial, local paper

    “After all the smoke has cleared, we are left with a perverse microcosm of unwholesome sexuality. …It speaks of sexual abuse, and the most horrible kind of degradation, the objectification of a confused, perhaps weak, young girl.
    It also speaks of a generation of young men who are supposed to be forging for themselves character which will enable them to assume positions of societal responsibilities, but instead, consider it recreational, through whatever degree of culpability, to subjugate and humiliate another human being.”
--        John Miglis, Jacksonville Monthly, May 16, 1984

    The following are specific recommendations for actions institutions can take if an acquaintance gang rape is reported on campus. In fact, many of them have already been implemented successfully on different campuses. Several of these procedures should be in place prior to any occurrence. Many of the suggestions are applicable for other kinds of sexual assault. The recommendations will not be suitable for all situations at all institutions; they are meant to be catalysts for ideas. Institutions can use or adapt those most appropriate to their particular circumstances.

Institutional Responsibility to the Victim

       Ensure that the victim is consulted in all matters that affect her in the institution’s handling of the incident, such as her wishes regarding anonymity in institutional reports and interviews.
       Respect the victim’s decision to press or not press formal charges both within and outside the institution, and her right to change her mind.
       Provide the victim with full and complete information on her legal rights and the support she can expect from the institution. Make sure she is aware of her alternatives in pressing criminal charges and/or cooperating in an internal institutional investigation.
       Ensure that the victim knows that the institution’s support services, such as medical care and counseling, are available irrespective of her filing charges or cooperating in a campus investigation.
       Ensure that the victim has access to medical care either through the school’s student health center, hospital, or community treatment center.
       Provide free counseling services with personnel trained in dealing with rape victims either through the school’s counseling center or a comparable local center. Encourage the victim to take advantage of these services and also rely on peer and faculty counseling if she so desires.
       Provide financial assistance to the victim. At one institution the Faculty Senate Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly that ”…the University promptly fulfill its moral responsibility to the victim by meeting the medical, legal and educational expenses incurred by her as a consequence of this (rape).” The president and provost agreed to do so.
       The victim should be encouraged to seek medical attention, to allow evidence to be collected, and to make a statement to the police. Even if she does not wish to file charges, this evidence will be helpful in keeping records of incidents and identifying problem situations, and it will be available should she decide to file charges later.
       Make sure there is one person from the counseling center or campus police department who is continually available to the victim to help her in dealing with campus and police investigations and/or legal actions. This is especially important so that the victim does not feel that she is being bounced from person to person and forced to tell her story to one stranger after another.
       Many rapes are not officially reported. To encourage victims to seek help to report incidents, institute a sexual assault peer counseling program that would provide trained and identifiable student aides to assist a victim in obtaining help.
       Make sure that boyfriends and friends of victims know that counseling services are available to help them deal with the aftermath of rape.
       Coordinate victim support services. The University of Connecticut operates a “Victim Support Team” made up of representatives from various campus departments such as the women’s center, the police, dean of students, residential life, women’s clinic, counseling and student development, and sexual assault crisis center. The “team” links all rape support services, educates staff members, improves the referral system, develops expertise, and ensures uniform definitions and protocol.
       Keep the victim informed about the progress of any campus investigations. Make sure that the dean of students, or whoever is in charge, communicates regularly with the victim throughout the investigation.
       Ensure that the victim is not harassed by the perpetrators and other fraternity members. (At one school where the woman elected to stay on campus, her attackers followed her around the campus in an attempt to intimidate her.) Encourage the woman to report such incidents and inform the men involved that such behavior may be a cause for further and separate disciplinary action.
       Have someone maintain contact with the victim throughout the rest of her time in school. Monitor her progress and make sure she receives any support she may need in completing her classwork and readjusting to campus life.

Investigation of Criminal Conduct

    Conduct an investigation of what happened.
       Make clear who is in charge of the campus investigation and set appropriate lines of communication. This will eliminate confusion and time-consuming duplication and also help the students involved to know who is in authority and to whom they are expected to report.
       Ensure that the person(s) conducting the investigation keeps written records, and is aware of the “blame the victim” phenomenon.
       Inform the participants of their legal rights in the same manner as the victim as been informed.
       If the victim decides to file a criminal charge of rape, the results of any internal investigation should be handed over to the appropriate police agency immediately.
       Make sure campus police officers, health personnel, and counselors are trained in dealing with rape victims and are sensitive to their needs. Have female personnel available if the victim prefers.
       Institute a third-party reporting system in which the victim can communicate through a third person is she wished to protect her anonymity or avoid reporting directly to the police or campus authority.

Disciplinary Procedures For Individuals

Institutional procedures should allow for institutional action even if the victim does not file criminal charges, or charges within the institution. It is important that the sanctions fit the severity of the act and not be viewed as a mere “slap on the wrist.” In most cases, several sanctions rather than a single one will be appropriate. Sanctions must not be kept confidential if the resolution of the incident is to transmit a clear message to the campus as to what conduct is and is not acceptable.

       The institution’s actions should not be dependent upon the victim’s filing a criminal charge or a charge within the institution. Nor should they be dependent on a criminal charge being successfully prosecuted. In other words, the institution has responsibility to it own community and the victim when the institution’s code of behavior and/or regulations are violated. University procedures and sanctions should be implemented even if criminal charges are initiated or dropped.
       Establish a clear line of authority for student discipline, usually through the dean of students office and finally, the president.
       Judicial procedures that specify an all-student panel are usually not appropriate for cases involving personal violence or possible felonies. (Additionally, students might be reluctant to testify or sit as judges.) Review existing disciplinary hearing procedures to handle charges of gang rape. The students involved in the gang rape incident must be allowed to be represented by their attorneys.
       Appoint a special panel of faculty to hear the case.
       Develop a clear and consistent policy on appropriate sanctions for those individuals found guilty of party gang rape. Options, depending on the degree of complicity in the illegal conduct, include:
       immediate expulsion;
       suspension for a specified time;
       counseling, including group counseling, to better understand the nature of the acts and the implications and consequences for themselves and for the victim;
       denial of campus housing;
       prohibiting the men involved from living together off-campus without approval;
       requiring those involved to inform their parents;
       placing a letter in the perpetrators’ permanent files. At one college the sanction letter was written as follows:
“   have a letter written by (dean) about these matters entered in their permanent record, to be transmitted to any college, graduate school, professional school, or employer, with any transcript or recommendation requested. Upon a sufficient showing of growth and development in coming to terms with the issues involved, (dean) would expect to destroy the letters. The College has an obligation to help its students with educational and vocational placement, but it also has obligations to those who ask for recommendations or educational records. (Should a student select separation (from the college) we will not send the letter but would respond honestly to inquiries.)”
       requiring relevant community services such as participation in acquaintance rape presentations;
       requiring each of the perpetrators to write a letter of apology to the victim.

       Develop a similar policy for dealing with the fraternity as a whole for having sanctioned or encouraged this behavior. Distinguish between punishing individuals and punishing the fraternity as whole. (Sanctions should not be limited only to the fraternity, since it is individuals who perpetrated the act.)
       The judicial process within the university should follow due process.

Disciplinary Procedures For the Fraternity

       Inform the national office of the fraternity about what happened. In at least one instance the national office revoked the charter of a chapter involved in a gang rape. Another national office expelled the members who were involved in a gang rape.
       Sanctions for fraternities include the following (as with sanctions for the individuals, several rather than one sanction may be appropriate):
       disbanding of chapter;
       loss of campus housing;
       suspending rushing for a specified time;
       prohibiting all social activities, including parties and participation in sorority socials, Greek Week, ski trips, Homecoming, etc., for a specified time;
       prohibiting service projects for a specified time;
       suspending intramural activities, including both fraternity and independent league play;
       prohibiting pledges and members of the fraternity at the time of the incident from serving as an officer in the chapter;
       prohibiting pledges and members from holding office in student government of holding any other campus position of leadership and status;
       prohibiting alcohol at fraternity events for a specified time;
       requiring relevant community service such as participation in acquaintance rape prevention programs. When such service is required it should apply to all members. (At one campus, the fraternity was to perform a number of hours of community service. Unfortunately, the fraternity was allowed to have new pledges perform all the hours so that those involved in the actual rape did not have to do any of the service.);
       requiring live-in adult supervision. Alternatively, make supervision of fraternities uniform with other campus residence units are supervised on a regular basis. (However, in addition to the increased costs of providing supervision, this recommendation also has the negative effect of making the fraternity members less responsible for their own actions. For example, if any difficulty does occur, the houseparent is more likely to be blamed rather than those responsible for the difficulty.);
       restricting female guests to the downstairs area of the fraternity during social functions;
       requiring every fraternity to develop and record its official position on sexual violence and develop its own guidelines to ensure that the policy will be enforced.

Legal Responsibilities

    The following are suggestions for actions institutions can take to protect themselves from third-party liability suits brought by the victim of a fraternity or party gang rape. These suggestions also may diminish the possibility of gang rape. However, as long as institutions provide official recognition and institutional support of fraternities and allow them to operate on school-owned property, total protection may not be possible. The following options, however, may be of help:

       Regulate fraternity activities. Restrict the availability of alcohol for campus parties, have security guards or other personnel at all functions, and set time limits on how long parties may last.
       Develop a letter or brochure to be delivered to all fraternity officials detailing the regulations to be followed and informing them that they will be held responsible for any illegal behavior at their parties. Do this at the beginning of each year.
       Require that fraternity organizations take out liability insurance. In case the institution is sued successfully, it may be able to recover the money from the fraternity.
       Make sure that the institution is insured for possible third-party liability suits as well.
       Make sure that all students are informed of the risks of acquaintance rape in general and the party gang rape. Use orientation and student manuals to provide information about this. Do not rely on the “grapevine” to warn students away from dangerous situations. (Institutions often warn students about other dangers such as avoiding “bad” sections of town. They should similarly warn students about the risks that might occur at parties.)


       Appoint a campus spokesperson to be responsible for handling inquiries and giving interviews to the media. This will ensure an accurate, single source of information and lead to more responsible coverage.
       Appoint an official and possibly a staff to deal with inquiries and comments from the general public which will require responses. (This might be the same person who is handling media inquiries.)
       Inform the campus community about the sanctions imposed on the individuals and the fraternity.
       Campus promotional literature and admissions representatives should not ignore the problem of rape on campus. It is better to assure prospective students and parents that your campus, like other American institutions, is unfortunately not immune from sexual violence, but that your institution is doing something about it by developing specific policies and programs to lessen the possibility of rape. At one state university with an extensive and well-publicized rape prevention program, applications and enrollment of women actually increased.
How To Prevent Campus Gang Rape Incidents

    The following are recommendations for action which various groups on campus can use to heighten awareness of the issue of party gang rape and to develop effective policies and programs with which to combat the problem.
    Because the problem of rape—stranger rape, date rape, and acquaintance gang rape—and the strategies to combat it have so many common elements, these suggestions do not apply to acquaintance rape exclusively; many of them are useful in educating students about stranger rape and date rape as well. Many of them can be incorporated into already existing rape prevention and intervention programs. Although adopting and/or adapting these recommendations cannot guarantee that no gang rapes will occur, those institutions with specific policies and programs will be in a better position to deal with this issue than institutions which do not, and are more likely to prevent its occurrence in the first place.

Official Policy Statements

       Develop a specific official policy to deal with campus gang rape or amend existing policy to make sure it would apply to gang rape. Include in the policy a clear explanation of applicable state and local laws concerning rape. (Many students are totally unaware that what they do may be considered rape under the law.) Also include a clear description of the institution’s position, i.e., its willingness to follow up complaints of gang rape and to bring to bear the institution’s resources to deal with this issue. Explain judicial procedures that will be followed in handling complaints and stipulate what disciplinary actions will be taken against individual students and/or organizations.
       Publicize the gang rape policy widely across the campus; publish the policy statement in the student handbook. Ensure that fraternities and sororities receive copies of the policy annually so that new students are aware of the policy.
       Incorporate information on the potential problem of acquaintance gang rape into other policy statements and materials dealing with the use of drugs and alcohol on campus.
       Incorporate into the student code working about sexual abuse and the need to respect the rights and dignity of individuals.

Raising Awareness of Gang Rape Issues: Programs for Women and Men Students

    “They (the university) warn us about hitchhiking and about “bad” sections of town. After I was raped (at a fraternity party) I asked the university to warn new students about fraternity parties. They refused, saying they didn’t want to scare students.”
        --Rape victim, private mid-Atlantic university

       Appoint a student/faculty task force to investigate campus sexual abuse and to make recommendations in a public report.
       Develop programs, such as campus discussions, about the interpersonal relations between men and women including sexual rights and responsibilities. Demonstrate how popular culture portrays women and men in magazines, ads, art, music, and cartoons—some examples could deal specifically with rape, others with sex role stereotyping. Explain how men and women are socialized into believing certain ideas about appropriate sex roles and behaviors. Incorporate the concept of date and acquaintance gang rape into these programs.
       Create a centralized committee to develop activities and programs relating to women and sexual abuse on a campus-wide basis. Several campuses have done this by recruiting members from all sectors of the campus: police, health staff, women’s center, affirmative action office, faculty, and students. Activities of the committee could include advising the president and/or dean of students, and initiating and coordinating programs and services. The President’s Committee on Violence Against Women at the University of Connecticut held an open forum to discuss the needs, fears, and beliefs of the campus community regarding rape and distributed a campus-wide survey to more fully assess the situation.
       Ensure that all presentations and programs on rape include specific information about the prevalence of acquaintance gang rape on campus. Michigan State University brought attention to the issue by staging a “mock trial” based on a true incident of acquaintance rape on its campus. The trial was staged in a dormitory with a real judge, defense and prosecuting attorneys, and student volunteers playing the victim and alleged rapist. This strategy sensitized many people not only to the emotional difficulties faced by the victim of an acquaintance rape but also the legal implications of the act.
       Many local women’s centers have well-developed rape awareness programs. Use them as a resource for campus programs; involve them in planning and implementation. Often local centers will have consultants available for just such a purpose.
       Involve fraternities and sororities in the planning and implementation of awareness programs.
       Develop programs for incoming first year, women and men, to be presented at orientation sessions. Include a campus or local police talk on general safety measures and legal implications, describe rape prevention and education services offered on campus, introduce rape counselors and staff, and include a self-defense demonstration. Include information on acquaintance rape as well as stranger rape.
       Hold workshops for students to discuss stranger and acquaintance rape on campus and general research findings on rape and sexual harassment.
       Presentations on acquaintance gang rape could be incorporated into classes such as sociology, criminal justice, etc. Police at the University of South Hawaii give talks in these classes. It is especially helpful for commuting students who cannot always attend other on-campus activities.
       Have campus or local police talk to students about state and local laws concerning acquaintance rape. Many students are not aware that intercourse with a woman unable to give informed consent (as in the case of a woman who has had too much to drink.) is considered rape in almost all states. The campus police department at Washington State University presents and educational program, “When Sex Becomes a Crime,” to various campus groups reminding them that any intercourse without consent is considered rape in Washington.
       Develop written materials on acquaintance rape, such as flyers or brochures, to be included in freshmen orientation packets and distributed to every student on campus. Harvard University and Radcliffe College (MA) print information about where to contact campus and community rape treatment and education centers and emergency police numbers on a wallet-sized card. The other side contains clear concise information on what to do in case of rape. A rape prevention center at the University of Florida issues monthly “myths about rape” printed on bookmarks.
       In all acquaintance rape materials and presentations include information on how students can watch out for and protect one another at parties and in other vulnerable situations.
       Make all sexual assault publications available to students and others through several locations on campus such as the resident assistant’s room, student health center, dean’s office, etc. Distribute sexual assault literature as widely as possible on campus and to community organizations.
       Ensure that publications on stranger and acquaintance rape include a precise definition of sexual assault based on state and local laws, common-sense ways to avoid rape, suggestions on how to cope with an attack, advice for friends and lovers of the victim, and a list of counseling and treatment resources on campus and in the community.
       Provide personnel and resources to give presentations on the issuer of gang rape to various student groups including fraternities and sororities, residence halls, athletic teams, and clubs. A rape education program at the University of New Hampshire trains several undergraduate students (women and men) to conduct rape awareness workshops. Each student contracts to do at least three workshops during the school year and receives a stipend.
       Hold dorm or floor meetings as well as meetings at fraternities and sororities to discuss students’ concerns about rape.
       A variety of campus groups at several schools such as Stanford University (CA), Everett Community College (WA), and the University of Michigan have sponsored a week of sexual assault awareness activities including:
       open forums with administrators on campus safety and acquaintance rape;
       films on sex roles, the objectification of women, and violence;
       workshops, some by faculty, on gender roles as a barrier to open communication between the sexes;
       self-defense classes;
       presentations on how enforcement agencies deal with rape; and
       lectures and seminars with guest speakers on a variety of rape-related issues.

       Encourage student support and interest in rape prevention activities. The University of Kansas allows student volunteers to receive credit for their work at the rape victim support center to satisfy requirements for practicum experience.
       Involve the student government in funding, sponsorship, and/or implementation of rape education programs.

Involving Men More Fully In Rape Awareness Programs

    Many rape educators and other administrators on campus point out that often it is difficult to involve as many men as they would like in working on rape issues and in reaching men through workshops and other programs. The following are several suggestions for remedying this situation:

       State expressly in publicity for rape education programs that men are encouraged to attend. Often men are unsure about whether or not they are welcome.
       Develop rape awareness pamphlets or other materials targeted directly to men.
       Appeal directly to male campus leaders, fraternity house presidents, and captains of athletic teams to get involved. Often they can influence friends and constituents.
       Encourage fraternities to take a public stand against acquaintance rape. In October 1984, Durward W. Owen, the national executive director of Pi Kappa Phi, wrote local chapters urging them to adopt a strong stand against sexual abuse. He noted that “That matter of sexual abuse has become epidemic in recent years.” In August 1985, the fraternity’s members unanimously passed a statement condemning sexual abuse. (Copies of the position statement are available free from Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, P.O. Box 240526, Charlotte, NC, 28224.)
       If possible set up a special committee to educate men about rape. Involve male and female students (especially those in fraternities and sororities), faculty, and administrators.
       Make sure to post announcements for rape awareness activities in men’s living quarters, locker rooms, etc.
       Set mandatory times, if possible, for fraternities, social clubs, residence halls, etc. to attend rape programs.
       Rape prevention programs should include men as facilitators. Often males feel less threatened and defensive if a man helps to present the program. At the University of New Hampshire a team of three male administrators have conducted workshops for male students on sexual aggression.

Involving Faculty, Administrators and Staff

    Often students will confide in a faculty member, staff member, or an administrator whom they trust about an incident of gang rape that they have been involved in or are aware of. For this reason, faculty, administrators, and staff need to be aware of the institution’s policies, procedures, and resources concerning sexual assault.

       Provide orientation sessions or materials for faculty and staff explaining institutional policy on sexual violence. If possible, these should be sponsored by the president’s and/or dean of students’ office.
       Provide training about acquaintance rape awareness and treatment for campus personnel such as counselors, health staff, campus police residence hall staff, fraternity and sorority house presidents, campus chaplains, women’s center staff, and dean of students’ staff.
       Obtain official recognition and/or funding from the president’s and/or dean of students’ office for rape prevention and victim support activities. Support from the top campus administrators offers additional credibility and visibility within the university and encourages the involvement of others on campus.
       Involve faculty in rape awareness presentations and workshops. Northwestern University (IL) teams students with faculty to give short presentations on acquaintance rape and to lead discussions at residence halls, fraternity, and sorority houses.
       Encourage faculty to incorporate information on rape and the mythology of rape into their courses. A “Human Relationship Series” at Siena Heights College (MI) presents rape as symptomatic of larger social problems between the sexes. To the extent that universities are educating future jurors, law officers, mental health and health professionals and social workers, issues such as rape-victim reaction and treatment should be considered appropriate research topics in man classes. Where appropriate, faculty should encourage their students to view rape education and prevention centers as research resources.
       Develop a master list of all materials available on campus on the subject of sexual violence for use by sexual assault counselors and health professionals as well as by students and researchers.
       Assemble materials covering the issue of sexual violence and make them available to researchers and others in the library or the women’s center.
       Offer courses (with or without credit) and/or programs about violence against women.

Data Collection

       Have counseling center(s) on campus and in the community keep track of the number of student rape victims coming to the center, whether the assailant(s) was stranger or an acquaintance, and whether the crime occurred on campus. Issue an annual report with recommendations where necessary.
       Conduct an in-house survey of students, faculty, and employees about incidents and perceptions of violence on campus.

Using the Media

       Place ads in campus and community newspapers regarding information about violence and prevention in general, including information about acquaintance gang rape, encouraging victims to report incidents, how to file a complaint, etc.
       Should incidents occur, publish information without violating the privacy of students. Facts supplant rumors and myths and help both women and men on campus become more aware of the problem and thus may play a preventive role. The monthly bulletin at Miami University (OH) lists sexual assaults, sexual impositions, and indecent exposures as defined by their state’s criminal code. The list includes information such as whether the crime occurred on campus and whether the incident was committed by an acquaintance or a stranger.
       Use campus radio, TV and newspapers for public service announcements. TV stations in Madison, Wisconsin, played a 30-second commercial that shoed a young woman saying, “The men I like, like to listen to me…. They respect what I have to say, and when I say ‘no,’ they hear me. And they don’t have a problem with that.”

Campus Social Life

       Review and revise if necessary, and widely publicize standards of acceptable conduct conducive to scholarship and respect for the rights of all in the campus community.
       Involve students in developing an “honor code” about sexual behaviors and responses.
       Hold seminars to discuss responsible sexual behaviors and responses.
       Develop regulations for alcohol use on campus. Require that nonalcoholic beverages be available whenever alcohol is served at parties. Involve students in developing guidelines and planning how to increase student awareness.
       Monitor campus parties more carefully. The Interfraternity Council at Stanford University requires that every fraternity party have four monitors, two from the host house and two from other fraternities. The monitors’ (who are required to stay sober) responsibilities include checking school ID’s to prevent local high school students from attending the party, bouncing drunks, and other irresponsible students, and preventing people who have had too much to drink from driving home.
       Encourage students to plan more functions that do not revolve around alcohol such as sports activities, lectures, political meetings, etc.
       Critically analyze the role of Greek societies on campus. Several schools have assessed the value that fraternities and sororities add to campus social life; some have decided that extensive reform is required; some have eliminated the Greek system altogether (see footnote 26).
       Review and revise some fraternity/sorority activities that have encourages alcohol and drug abuse and harassment of women. For instance, Rutgers University (NJ) has revised its rush system whereby the fraternities and sororities recruit new members. Instead of the traditional rush parties, the new system promotes equal exposure to all houses for new students and alcohol-free activities. Rushing begins with an introductory night in the Student Center, which attracts students who are interested in joining the organizations, and has not reduced the number of pledges. The University of Florida prohibits alcohol at rushes.
       Institute a review committee comprised of faculty and students to discuss and propose solutions for the campus concerns of negative treatment of women as sex objects by fraternities and irresponsible alcohol consumption at fraternity parties.
       Encourage sororities and little-sister organizations to participate in workshops on sexual violence, including all forms of rape. They may be able to pressure the fraternities to pay attention to the problem.
       Involve fraternities and sororities in activities to raise members’ awareness of acquaintance gang rape and publicize rape issues.


       Familiarize security personnel on campus with acquaintance gang rape issues; including fraternity and party rape in particular.
       Make sure that security personnel familiar with acquaintance gang rape issues are on duty when campus parties are scheduled.
       Evaluate procedures to be followed if incidents occur. (Who is to be informed, what health measures should be taken, how evidence is to be collected, how to ensure that the victim is cared for, etc.)
       Operate a 24-hour sexual assault hotline so students can report any incidents or get help from a sympathetic counselor.
       Provide an escort service to accompany students who need a ride home from a party, the library, etc. The University of South Florida’s student government sponsors a free escort service, “Safe Team.”

Community Relations

       Keep the general public aware of the institution’s concern with rape issues and desire to keep the campus environment safe for everyone.
       Make sure that the local community is aware of rape prevention programs and activities sponsored by the campus.
       Enlist the aid of community groups already working on these issues such as the local police, rape crisis centers, women’s groups, etc. Involve them in the planning and implementation of campus programs.
Offer campus-developed programs and presentations to local groups, such as high school groups and community organizations.

    Written by Julie K. Erhart, former Staff Associate, and Bernice Resnick, Sandler, former Executive Director of the Project on the Status and Education of Women of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and now Senior Scholar, Women’s Research and Education Institute.
    The authors would like to thank the following people for their guidance in the development of this paper: Claire Walsh, former Director of Sexual Assault Recovery Services, University of Florida; Ellen Godbey Carson, attorney with Landis, Cohen, Rauh, and Zelenko, Washington DC; and Beth Tierney, a former student intern with the Project. This paper was funded in part by a grant from the Sophia Fund.

Rape Prevention: A Profile of One Campus’ Effort

    At the University of Florida, rape prevention programming is a year-round activity. COAR (Campus Organized Against Rape) is a student organization sponsored by the student government and Student Health Services which offers an opportunity for men and women to work together to educate the campus about sexual violence. An active program of presentations on acquaintance rape and related issues is available to students in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and other groups. Classroom presentations are often made.
    The program, “How Vulnerable Are You?” explores the myths, misconceptions and miscommunications which often lead to sexual violence. COAR students are trained as peer presenters and are accompanied by professional staff at all presentations.
    COAR also provides information to the campus community through its bimonthly lecture series which features presentations by professionals. Guests from law enforcement, counseling and advocate services and the criminal justice system as well as those with expertise in communication between the sexes, sex role socialization and sexual decision-making share information and ideas at the meetings which are open to the public.
    COAR men and women have developed extensive educational materials for campus use such as brochures, displays, bookmarks, articles, and calendars. COAR sponsors, with student government, the annual Rape Awareness Week each January at which a nationally recognized speaker on some aspect of sexual coercion appears, rotating workshops and presentations on various aspects of sexual violence from both the victim’s and offender’s perspective are offered throughout the week.
    For more information on COAR and its activities contact Director, Sexual Assault Recovery Services, University of Florida, Gainseville, FL 36211.
    Note: This program was cut back substantially several years later.

Facts About Rape

       Rape is a crime.
       Rape can happen anywhere, anytime.
       Rape is not the victim’s fault.
       Alcohol and drugs are not an excuse for sexual abuse.
       Sexual abusers, including gang rapists, could be anyone.

Myths and Realities About Rape

    Misconceptions about sexual assault abound in our society. Not only do they perpetuate a “blame the victim” attitude and make it more difficult for rape victims to seek help and to recover from the assault, they may also subtly encourage more rapes to occur. The following are several common and inappropriate myths that apply to both stranger and acquaintance rape.

       “Rape doesn’t’ happen at a school like our university.”

In fact, a significant number of campus rapes committed by strangers and “friends” go unreported. A lack of reports of rape on campus does not mean that a problem does not exist. Rape can occur anywhere. A campus that believes that rape is not a relevant issue may do a disservice to its students, both female and male. Refusing to admit that rape on campus may be  problem or a potential problem only serves to make rape survivors feel isolated and guilty and may actually put women on campus at greater risk.

       “It will not/cannot happen to me.”

The misconception that only a “certain kind” of woman is raped may serve as a kind of false sense of security against the knowledge that anyone can be victimized.

       “Rape is a crime of sexual passion”

Rape is a crime of violence and aggression. Rape is not a result of sudden
uncontrollable sexual urges set off by a woman’s appearance or behavior. The rapist often plans the rape in advance and chooses a victim who appears vulnerable. The rapist is not expressing a sexual need but rather his need to feel powerful—to dominate and control in a sexual context.

Men and women are equally capable of controlling their sexual urges and equally responsible for their sexual acts. The myth that the rapist is carried away by uncontrollable sexual desire and that lack of control is a “natural” masculine trait often serves to excuse rape and to place responsibility on the victim.

       “Women are asking for it by their dress or actions.

Rapists, whether involved in stranger or acquaintance rape, look for
available targets they perceive as vulnerable, not women who dress in a particular way. No person asks to be hurt or degraded, just as no one asks to be robbed because they are carrying money in their pocket. No woman—whatever her behaviors—“deserves” to be raped by one or seven or eleven men. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist(s), not the victim.

       “Women secretly want to be raped.”

Some men believe that women secretly want to be overpowered. In truth,
virtually all rape victims report feelings of terror, humiliation, and degradation.

       “It wasn’t rape because she didn’t resist.”

Many people erroneously believe that a normal healthy woman cannot be raped if she puts up a struggle. It is common for rape survivors to indicate that they feared for their lives and were immobilized by fear. Additionally, few women are trained either physically or mentally to defend themselves. In a gang rape situation, the sheer number of assailants is enough to inhibit a woman’s resistance. Often the woman’s protest may not be seen as a protest, the erroneous beliefs that a woman’s “No” is really a “Yes.” The use of drugs and/or alcohol by the attacker(s) and victim may also confuse the issue because the victim is unconscious or unable to give informed consent; nevertheless, it is still rape.

       “There are many false reports about rape.”

Only about two percent of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false, the same percentage as for other felonies. Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for conviction, this should not be confused with false reporting.

       “The rapist is almost always a stranger to the victim.”

Most women are raped by someone they know—a date, an acquaintance, a neighbor, a relative. Over half of reported rapes and the great majority of unreported rapes fall into this category. A woman forced into unwanted sexual activities by a “friend” may not even view it as rape. Thus, the “stranger” myth often leaves victims of acquaintance rape unprepared to deal with their experience and discourages them from reporting the incident or seeking counseling.

       “Rapists are insane.”

Most stranger rapists appear to be normal men from all ethnic groups, all socio-economic levels, all professions. Most are young, although they can be any age, and lead relatively normal sex lives. Psychological tests of known stranger rapists show no different personality traits from other men except for an inability to control anger. Students involved in acquaintance gang rape are also apparently “normal.”

Results of Ms. Study

(Ms. Magazine, October 1985, used by permission)

    One quarter of women in college today have been the victims of rape or attempted rape, and almost 90 percent of them knew their assailants. These are two of the more startling statistics to emerge from the Ms. Magazine Campus Project on Sexual Assault, the most far-reaching study to date on patterns of sexual aggression at America’s institutions of higher learning. Funded by a grant from the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape, and under the direction of Kent State University psychologist Mary P. Koss, the survey reached more than 7,000 students at 35 schools. Preliminary results of the three-year study show:

       Fifty-two percent of all women surveyed have experienced some form of sexual victimization.
       One in every eight women were the victims of rape, according to the prevailing definition.
       One in every 12 men admitted to having fulfilled the prevailing definition of rape or attempted rape, yet virtually none of those men identified themselves as rapists.
       Of the women who were raped, almost three quarters did not identify the experience as rape.
       Forty-seven percent of the rapes were by first or casual dates or by romantic acquaintances.
       Three quarters of the women raped were between the ages 15 and 21; the average age at the time of the rape was 18.
       More than 80 percent of the rapes occurred off-campus, with more than 50 percent on the mans turf: home, car, or other.
       More than one-third of the women raped did not discuss their experiences with anyone; more than 90 percent did not tell the police.

The full report includes valuable information on the aftermath of date rape,
sex–role expectations that may foster such rapes, and details about the circumstances of date rape—all of which will help in developing preventative and educational programs.
    For more information on the study, contact the Antisocial and Violent Behavior Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, room 6C-15, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857 or Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson, AZ 85724.

Selected List of Resources


Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Training Manual. Andrea Parrot, 1985, 83 pages. Available for $6.00 from Andrea Parrot, Department of Human Service Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Acquaintance Rape: Effective Avoidance Strategies. Joyce Levine-MacCombic and Mary P. Koss, 1985, 17 pages. Reprints are available from Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

Alcohol and the American Campus. 1981, 8 pages. ($.35)

The BACCHUS Guide to Successful Partying. 8 pages. ($.25)

The BACCHUS Handbook. Introduction to the program and its approach. ($4.95)

The BACCHUS Program Guide. Information on organizing and operating a campus chapter. ($4.95)

Model Program of Alcohol Education in Institutions of Higher Education. 1984, 199 pages. ($6.95)

The above publications are available from BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students), 124 Tigert Hall, University of Florida, Gainseville, FL 32611. (Add 15 percent for postage and handling.)

Avoiding Rape On and OFF Campus. Carol Pritchard, 1985, 59 pages. Available for $3.95 from State College Publishing Company, 311 Princeton Ave., P.O. Box 209, Wenonah, NJ 08090.

Date Rape: A Basic Guide for Developing a Community Program. Randolph A. Gonzalez, 1985, 25 pages. Instruction manual for the crime prevention practitioner to assist in the development of a date rape awareness program. Available for $6.00 from Eurich and Gonzalez, P.O. Box 260501, Tampa, FL 33685.

“The Hidden Rape Victim: Personality, Attitudinal, and Situational Characteristics.” Mary P. Koss, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 1985, pages 193-212. Reprints available from Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

“Nonstranger Sexual Aggression: A Discriminant Analysis of the Psychological Characteristics of Undetected Offenders.” Mary P. Koss, Kenneth E. Leonard, Dana A. Beezley, Cheryl J. Oros, Sex Roles, Vol. 12, Nos. 9/10, 1985, pages 981-992. Reprints are available from Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

Not for Women Only! A Rape Awareness Program for Men. Mark Willmarth, 1985, 11pages. Guidelines for organizing and conducting a rape education for men, presented at the American College Personnel Association Conference in March 1985. Available for $2.50 from Mark Willmarth, College of Great Falls, 1301 20th St. South, Great Falls, MT 59405

Personality and Additudinal Characteristics of Sexually Coercive College Males. Karen Rapaport and Barry R. Burkhart, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1984, Vol. 93, NO. 2, pages 216-221. Reprints are available from Barry R. Burkhart, Psychology Department, Auburn University, AL 36849.

The Problem of Rape on Campus. 1984, 175 pages. Workshop notebook of 1984 conference proceedings including information on acquaintance rape and group rape awareness and prevention on Campus. Available for $30.00 from Campus Crime Prevention Programs, P.O. Box 204, Goshen, KY 40026.

Rape Chart. 1985, 50 pages. A state-by-state listing of rape legislation. Available for $5.00 from Women’s Rights Law Reporter, Rutgers Law School, 15 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102.

Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault for Women, Men, Teenagers, and Their Friends and Families. Helen Benedict, 1985, 293 pages. Available for $15.95 from Doubleday and Company, Inc., 673 Fifth Ave., New York NY 10019.

Resources for Responsible Drinking: A Catalog of Alcohol Education Materials Stressing Moderation and Responsible Decision-Making. 8 pages. Available free from Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., Inc., 1250 Eye St. NW, Washington DC 20005.

“Sexual Assault Determinants of Victim Disclosure.” Carol A. Skelton and Barry R. Burkhart, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 7, No. 2, June 1980, pages 229-236. Reprints are available from Barry R. Burkhart, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36830.

“Sexual Experiences Survey: A Research Instrument Investigating Sexual Aggression and Victimization.” Mary P. Koss and Cheryl J. Oros, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1982, Vol. 50, No. 3, pages 455-457. Requests for reprints and for copies of the Sexual Experiences Survey should be sent to Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

“Sexual Experiences Survey: Reliability and Validity.” Mary P. Koss and Christine A. Gidyca, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1985, Vol. 53, No. 3, pages 422-423. Requests for reprints and for copies of the Sexual Experiences Survey should be sent to Mary P. Koss, Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson, AZ 85724.

Survival for Women Newsletter, Helen P. Lickhalter, Publisher, monthly newsletter. Available for $12.00 annually from Survival for Women, 2554 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 228, Marina del Rey, CA, 90291. Issues covered include date rape and sexual assault.

Surviving Sexual Assault. Rochel Grossman and Joan Sutherland, Eds., 1983, 86 pages. Available for $4.95 plus $1.00 postage and handling from Survival for Women, 2554 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 228, Marina del Rey, CA, 90291, or St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York NY 10010.

Violence in Intimate Relationships. Gordon Russell, Editor, 1988, 420 pages. Includes a chapter, “Sexual Aggression in Acquaintance Relationships.” by Barry R. Burkhart and Annette L. Stanton of Auburn University. For information on the availability of the book contact PMA Publishing Corporation, 3176 Pullman St., Suite 104, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.


Special Note: The National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape (NCPCR) of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was established in 1976 to conduct research on rape; to encourage research-demonstration methods; to compile and publish training materials; and to develop and maintain a national information clearinghouse on sexual assault. Unfortunately, NCPCR no longer exists as a separate entity, but has been absorbed by the Antisocial and Violent Behavior Branch of NIMH. For information about NCPCR’s former activities and materials and the current status contact the Antisocial and Violent Behavior Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, room 6C-15, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857. (301) 443-3728

Alcohol Policy Council, P.O. Box 148, Waterford, VA, 22190, contact Gus Hewlitt, President. APL examines current alcohol policy issues including advertising, college marketing, drunk driving and alcohol education programs. It publishes a newsletter six times a year.

Alternatives to Fear, 1605 Seventeenth Ave., Seattle, WA 98122. The organization publishes several books on acquaintance rape awareness and prevention; many of them targeted to young women and men.

BACCHUS of the United States, Inc., 124 Tigert Hall, University of Florida, Gainseville, FL 32611. BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness concerning the Health of University Students) Provides guidance and materials for student groups concerned about alcohol issues and education. Individual chapters operated on campuses nationwide.

Campus Crime Prevention Programs, P.O. Box 204, Goshen, KY 40026. Contact: Daniel P. Keller, Director of Public Safety, University of Lousiville. CCPP organizes annual national conferences on crime including speakers and resources on acquaintance rape and stranger rape on campus.

New England College Alcohol Network, Box 819, Amerhest, MA 01004. Contact: Stephen J. Nelson, Director of Student Activities, Dartmouth College (603) 646-3325. NECAN is an informal association of health educators, counselors, and deans from nearly 100 colleges and universities in the region, set up to share information on ways to prevent alcohol abuse on campus. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter and sponsors annual regional conferences.

Rape Education and Prevention Program (REPP), Ohio State University, 408 Ohio Union, 1739 North High St., Columbus, OH 43210. In conjunction with the OSU Gallery of Fine Art, the REPP produced a multi-media art exhibit entitled “Rape.” The exhibit toured the country beginning January 1986. For information on the exhibit contact Claude Fixler, Opportunities for the Arts, Touring Exhibitions Program, P.O. Box 2572, Columbus, OH 43216. The 48-page catalog, “Rape,” is available for $5.00 from the Opportunities for the Arts office.


Some colleges and universities have produced videotapes as a part of campus presentations on acquaintance rape to help illustrate the myths and miscommunications that can lead to acquaintance rape situations. The following is a partial list of films which have come to our attention. These films have not been previewed by the authors.

“A Question of Consent—Rape,” produced by Woroner Films, Inc. the film takes place in a courtroom situation and discusses the legal ramifications of rape. Available from Coronet/MTI 108 Wilmot Rd. Dearfield, IL60015. This organization also offers other films dealing with rape issues, ask for their catalog on personal violence.

“It Still Hurts,” Auburn University. The first part of this film portrays a date rape scenario, the second part presents an actual interview with a woman who was raped by men whom she believed were friends and illustrates the psychological consequences and betrayal of trust that result from acquaintance rape. For available information contact Campus Crime Prevention Programs, P.O. Box 204, Goshen, KY 40026.
“Not Only Strangers,” produced by Centron Films. This film depicts an acquaintance rape on campus. It deals with the reactions of the victim as well as those of her roommates. Available from Coronet/MTI. See ordering address for “A Question of Consent—Rape” above.

“The Party” and “The Dorm,” Swarthmore College. This student-produced film includes two vignettes on acquaintance rape designed to be shown during freshman orientation workshops. Information about copies of the tape and the workshop outline are available from Cigus Vanni, Assistant Dean of Students, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081.

“Rethinking Rape,” Stanford University. This film was developed in conjunction with the student-run Rape Education Project. It shows six interviews with six rape victims and a male student who was once tempted to become an acquaintance rapist. Contact “Rethinking Rape. c/o Jeanne La Pate, 171 Old La Honda Rd., Woodside, CA 94062.

“Sexual Assault: A Chance to Think,” University of Maryland. This campus police-funded film depicts the most commonly reported sexual assaults on the College Park campus, including a rape situation. It was produced, edited and acted by students. This film is shown in conjunction with a presentation and discussion. For more information contact Cathy Atwell, Public Information Officer, Police Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.


      1None of the institutions with documented cases of gang rape are named in this report. Our research indicates that campus gang rape is not an unusual occurrence, and we do not want to imply—by naming institutions—that incidents occur only at these institutions or that these institutions are worse than others. RETURN TO TEXT
      2In one study by the National Center for the Prevention of and Control of Rape, 92 percent of adolescent rape victims said they were acquainted with their attackers, reported in Newsweek, April 9, 1984, p. 91. RETURN TO TEXT
      3Mary P. Koss and Cheryl Oros, “Sexual Experiences Survey: A Research Instrument Investigating Sexual Aggression and Victimization,” 1982, quoted in Karen Barrett, “Date Rape, A Campus Epidemic?” Ms. Magazine, September 1982, p. 50. RETURN TO TEXT
      4Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1975, p. 363. RETURN TO TEXT
      5Rochel Grossman and Joan Sutherland, eds., Surviving Sexual Assault, Congdon and Weed, NY, 1983, p. 57. RETURN TO TEXT
     6Gail Abarbanel, Director, Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica Hospital, study on sexual assaults by non-strangers and strangers. RETURN TO TEXT
     7Diane Windischman, Sexual Assault Crisis and Safety Education Coordinator, Michigan State University, Michigan State University Woman, January, 1985, pp.1,6. RETURN TO TEXT
     8Interview with Claire Walsh, former Director, Sexual Assault Recovery Services, University of Florida, Gainseville, September 17, 1985. RETURN TO TEXT
     9Study done at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 (reported in Newsweek, April 9, 1984, p. 91). RETURN TO TEXT
     10Reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 1983, p. 9. RETURN TO TEXT
     11See note 3. RETURN TO TEXT
     12Barry R. Burkhart, presentation at Acquaintance Rape and Rape Prevention on Campus Workshop, Louisville, KY, December 12-14, 1983. RETURN TO TEXT
     13Ibid. RETURN TO TEXT
     14Andrew Merton, “Return to Brotherhood,” Ms. Magazine, September 1985, p. 62. RETURN TO TEXT
     15Helen Benedict, Recovery, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1985, p. 8. RETURN TO TEXT
     16Ibid. RETURN TO TEXT
     18Ibid. RETURN TO TEXT
     19Margie Friedman, “To Wild Guys at a Party, Rape Isn’t a Crime, It’s a Spectator Sport,” Mademoiselle, July 1985, p. 165. RETURN TO TEXT
     20Tim Beneke, Men on Rape, St. Martin’s Press, NY, 1983, quoted in Friedman, P. 105. RETURN TO TEXT
     21Claire Walsh, quoted in Friedman, p. 105. RETURN TO TEXT
     22Merton, p. 122. RETURN TO TEXT
     23Quoted in Merton, p. 60. RETURN TO TEXT
     24See Peggy Reeves Sanday, University of Pennsylvania, quoted in “Gang Rape on College Campuses, “ Response, Vol. 7, No. 2, March/April 1984, p. 2. RETURN TO TEXT
     25Dan Filler, Brown University, quoted in Merton, p. 64. RETURN TO TEXT
     26For example, in 1984, both Colby College (ME) and Amherst College (MA) voted to close down fraternities on their campuses. Among the colleges and universities reviewing the status of fraternities and campus life in general are Bowdoin College (ME), Middlebury College (VT), and Stanford University (CA). RETURN TO TEXT
     27William L. Churchill, “Faculty Committee Report, Trinity Reporter, Winter 1983, p. 34. RETURN TO TEXT
     28Conversation with Leslie R. Wolfe, then-Director, Project on Equal Education Rights, Washington, DC, February 1984; now Executive Director, Center for Women Policy Studies. RETURN TO TEXT
     29Students who rented their own rooms or apartments tended to abstain from using alcohol or called themselves infrequent drinkers. The study was conducted in Winter 1984 by Susan Hoffman and Roger Harrold, University of Minnesota. RETURN TO TEXT
     30Adrinne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, Silence, W.W. Norton, NY, 1979, pp. 241-242. RETURN TO TEXT
     31Quoted in Friedman, p. 165. RETURN TO TEXT
     32Students without funds for legal services may be eligible for free or reduced fee legal services. The local county bar association can provide this information as well as referring the student to a personal injury lawyer. Additionally, many personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis. RETURN TO TEXT
      33Many states have a short statute of limitations under which personal injury claims can be filed, such as within a year of the event. RETURN TO TEXT

* Written by Julie K. Ehrhart, former Staff Associate, and Bernice Resnick Sandler, former Executive Director of the Project on the Status and Education of Women of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and now Senior Scholar, Women's Research and Education Institute. RETURN TO TEXT

*  *  *  *  *

Bernice R. Sandler, Senior Scholar in Residence at the Women's Research and Education Institute, consults extensively with institutions and others about women's equity, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and the chilly climate. She has given over 2000 presentations, written many articles, and serves as an expert witness in discrimination cases. Sandler can be contacted at:

Bernice R. Sandler
Senior Scholar, Women's Research and Education Institute
1350 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 850, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202 833 3331   Fax: 202 785 5605