- The Washington Post recently compiled a statistical ranking of colleges and universities based upon the number of reported on-campus rapes filed in 2014.
- The compilation suggests that a high number of reported rapes, with Brown University and the University of Connecticut topping the list with 43 reported cases, could indicate that resources are in action to encourage the reporting of sexual assault crimes and proper reporting to federal crime databases managed by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Public safety and sexual assault researchers say the ranking creates a false picture of campuses being unsafe, does not factor for incidents which occur off campus and does not separate "reported assaults" versus "actual assaults."
Ranking colleges based on sexual assault could lead to misreporting of the data by institutions across the country, a trend that has been a concern for a number of rankings criteria recently. For colleges and universities, media coverage of campus rape and sexual assault has wide-ranging impact on how current and prospective students regard safety, administrative response to sexual assault and how federal agencies review the same.
Executives must be cognizant of all of these factors and work to make sure that tolerance and sexual assault education is at the forefront of first-year student orientation, and is part of continuing campus dialog.
There is no predictability to when an sexual assault involving students will take place, and no boilerplate solution for how to handle a crime that can present so many expectations for review and adjudication. Schools can control the amount of resources they dedicate to campus education, and the messaging they provide to media about how seriously they take sexual assault prevention, simply by offering a glimpse of its integration into campus culture.