Headline prompts reaction

The Northerner hit the stands Feb. 28 with a story about the program called “Let’s Talk About ‘It,'” which sparked controversy among campus administrators, the admissions office, and prospective parents and students. While the headline, “Study: 26 Percent of NKU females raped,” was accurate, it misled some people to believe that all the rapes occurred on campus and that the statistic was representative of the entire female student population.

“The headline appeared to misrepresent the nature of the facts,” said Mark Shanley, vice president of Student Affairs. “I think it was ambiguous and provided no context for the data.”

NKU assistant psychology professor Dr. Kimberly Breitenbecher conducted the study and said that the numbers are accurate and consistent with national statistics. The 1998 National Violence Against Women Survey, conducted by the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telephone surveyed 8,000 women and 8,000 men, and found that 18 percent of women and 3 percent of men had experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. Most incidents among women, 54 percent, occurred before the age of 18.

Breitenbecher’s study assessed sexual experiences since the age of 14. The average participant age was 21.4 years, with 81 percent of the rape victims indicating that the rape occurred more than one year prior to their participation in the study.

“It is likely that a majority of the rape incidents documented in this investigation occurred before the women enrolled at NKU,” Breitenbecher said in an e-mail.

The study used a modified version of the Sexual Experience Survey and surveyed 377 female NKU students, of which 46 percent were in their first year and 25 percent were in their second year of college. Demographically, most of the participants were Caucasian, 90 percent; single, 86 percent; and heterosexual, 94 percent.

Most women reported either “casual” dating habits, 32 percent; or being in “serious dating” relationships, 43 percent; and 11 percent reported being married. Breitenbecher said these responses reflect typical dating habit patterns among women in their first or second year of college.

A broad definition of rape – intercourse subsequent to force, threat of force or administration of intoxicants – was used to qualify the 26 percent results, and is consistent with many state statutes, according to Breitenbecher.

Shanley said his main concern is that the vague information could dissuade readers from giving the study or the program the attention they deserve. “It is a major concern on our campus and in society in general, the whole issue of sexual assault, date rape and rape.”

NKU offers services to increase rape awareness and prevent sexual assault on campus, such as sponsoring events through the Activities Program Board or student organizations, providing residential assistants and public safety officials with training, discussing sexual assault during Freshman Orientation and in University 101 classes, and offering individual counseling through the Health, Counseling and Prevention Services department.

[b]WE! Awareness[/b]

Northern Kentucky University’s Women’s Empowerment sponsored their third annual Body Image Fair with the theme “Rape Awareness” on March 8.

WE! Representatives set up a booth in the University Center lobby, attracting passersby with candy and handing out fliers containing rape statistics and quick facts about preventing rape.

“We chose Rape Awareness as our theme, because it is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed,” said Kristen Johnson, former WE! president.