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Monday, 02 February 2015 19:30

KU law professor’s study shows universities are underreporting sexual assaults on college campuses

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Over the last few months, sexual assault on college campuses has become a hot button issue. According to a new study conducted by University of Kansas law professor, Corey Yung, sexual assaults are underreported by as much as 44 percent.

"I think it speaks to the institutional norms, which is to try and have crime not be a problem. Police survey shows they [officers] tend to disbelieve rape victims more than the public. When the audit's going on, then you have to be more careful," said Yung.

In his study, Professor Yung noticed that there were variations in the number of reported sexual assaults when a university was being audited. A trend that raises many questions.

"It seems like schools, when they're under a higher level of scrutiny, are more apt to give a fuller picture of what's going on. Once the Department of Education is gone, schools go back to their old practice," said Yung.

For many universities, safety is a top sell for parents, but Yung said this picture of a safe campus is often distorted by universities, posing an even bigger threat to students.

"I quote a woman in my study who is the head of a major coalition against rape. When people ask her where they should send their kids to college she says, 'go look up the numbers and send your kid to the place with the highest number of reported rapes because they're the only school that's taking it seriously,'" said Yung.

Although fixing this problem won't happen overnight, Yung said stricter penalties might be the answer to holding universities accountable when it comes to student safety.

"I think you just need more budgeting for auditing, so schools know that they could get caught with practices of underplaying or downplaying sexual assault," said Yung.

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