Duke Reports a Sexual Assault Rate 5 X as High as Our Most Dangerous City

Over the last few years, we have become all but immune to what, under any other circumstances, would be a fantastic claim—that one in five female undergraduates will be victims of sexual assault. This rate would translate to several hundreds of thousands of violent crime victims (with almost all of the incidents unnoticed) annually, and, as Emily Yoffe has pointed out, implies that about the same percentage of female college students are sexually assaulted as women in the Congo where rape was used as a war crime in the nation’s civil war.

Even within this environment of pie-in-the-sky statistics, a recent survey from Duke stands out. According to the survey, 40 percent of Duke’s female undergraduates (and 10 percent of Duke’s male undergraduates) describe themselves as victims of sexual assault. This data would mean that each year, a female undergraduate at Duke is 5.5 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a resident of St. Louis, which FBI statistics listed as the nation’s most dangerous city in 2016. And yet, incredibly, parents still spend around $280,000 to send their daughters into this den of crime for four years.

But 88% of Women Feel Safe

As always occurs with these surveys, the internal data renders them highly unreliable. But in this case, the internal data suggests a survey at war with itself. A few examples:

The survey indicates that 88 percent of female undergraduates say they feel safe on campus. So—at a minimum—28 percent of Duke female undergraduates say they feel safe at a school where they experienced sexual assault. Similarly, 74 percent of female undergraduates consider sexual assault a big problem on campus—meaning that at a minimum, 52 percent of female undergraduates feel “safe” on a campus where they think sexual assault is a “big problem.”

The most startling rate of self-described sexual assault victims comes among lesbian and bisexual female undergraduates, 59 percent of whom say they were sexually assaulted while at Duke. And yet, according to a later table, zero female undergraduates list a female as the perpetrator of their assault. Even assuming that every bisexual student surveyed said she was assaulted by a man, this figure would suggest that a significant portion of Duke lesbians are having some type of sexual contact with men (nearly all of whom, it appears, then turned out to have been sex criminals). Could anyone take such data seriously?

If true, these figures would suggest a violent crime epidemic not merely for Duke but for the city of Durham. Significant percentages of the alleged sexual assaults occurred in a category described as “off-campus/local,” thus falling within the jurisdiction of the Durham, rather than the Duke, Police Department. Yet no signs exist of the Durham Police paying more attention to this purported crime wave in their midst, or that the Duke leadership has asked them to do so.

‘Fundamentally Unfair” to Men

At heart of the issue is the extraordinarily broad definition of sexual assault—a term with a common cultural and legal understanding—used in surveys like the Duke one. The survey lumps together being “touched or grabbed” in an unwanted way (61 percent of the self-described victims) with sexual assault by force or threat (22 percent of the alleged victims) as if the severity of the offenses were the same. Even the survey takers appear to recognize the folly of this approach; 41 percent of self-described female sexual assault victims describe the experience of being sexually assaulted as not very upsetting—or not upsetting at all. The university’s response? Asking whether this figure indicated “a need for broadly disseminated programming on the impact of sexual misconduct.” Duke already has increased “the number of staff providing counseling and support services and conducting investigations.”

Perhaps the saddest item from the survey: 57 percent feel that students accused of sexual assault are treated fairly. They’re responding to a system in which Duke has had two negative judicial decisions, the most recent of which featured Judge Orlando Hudson characterizing the Duke procedures as “fundamentally unfair.” There is, of course, no reason to believe that most students have any idea just how unfairly Duke treats students accused of sexual assault.


  • KC Johnson

    KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author, along with Stuart Taylor, of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities.

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4 thoughts on “Duke Reports a Sexual Assault Rate 5 X as High as Our Most Dangerous City

  1. If wal-mart had a rape rate like Duke, there would be city/state/federal investigations. Top level wal-mart employees would be heading to the hills to avoid arrest. Low level employees would be fired en masse.

    Makes me wonder what kind of parent would subject their daughter to such a high risk of sexual assault.

  2. Note that the study defined “sexual assault” to include many acts that encompass what others counted as play. Horrible (maybe naive, maybe intentionally biased) measurement methods.

    1. Exactly.
      And that, exactly, is the point of such propaganda. As Goebbels noted: “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

      “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

      If everything is rape, then every accusation is truth, and every man becomes a rapist and every woman born a victim who requires saving and protection.

      The State requires and the College complies: Oppression, must be stopped; oppressors must be punished; and potential oppressors reprogrammed to understand that ANYTHING unwanted is criminal and every sexual action of any sort requires provable affirmative consent at every step (of course this is impossible, but never mind all that) along that road to learn.

      And how will all these idiocies and impossibilities be accomplished? Why with money, of course; money & power.

      It is estimated that Campus Security Spending will, by itself, exceed $400M annually — throw in what is spent on Title IX enforcement, counseling, legal defense, training etc. and a conservative estimate puts the total well above $1B a year.

      Sure it’s absolutely insane — but what the heck, let us count the offices, the promotions, the careers, the papers, and the publicity; lots of money to be made here, lots of votes, lots of power. And the object of power, as Orwell told us quite clearly, is simply Power. Let the Retraining Begin!

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