The University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies tells students that 1 in 6 college women are victims of rape or attempted rape, with the college years being a time of quadruple the normal risk. That’s not what Ole Miss tells the federal government, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. At Ole Miss, a campus of 15,932 students, there has been one reported sexual assault since 2007, say to federally requiredcrime statistics the university provides the U.S. Department of Education.
That’s in spite of the fact that sexual assault cases account for half of the 25 or so women who have sought help at the Ole Miss Violence Prevention Office, which opened in January in the campus women’s center. “We would love to see rape numbers go way up,” said Linda Abbott, the only full-time staffer at the violence prevention office. “People think that would mean more violence was happening, but we know it would just be more reporting, better reporting.” It would be difficult to imagine reporting going down. Across Mississippi, there were eight forcible sexual assaults reported among all 173,888 students in 2008. That’s not 1 in 6; it’s 1 in 25,000. Analyses of the gulf between reports and reality expose a kind of security paradox: Either the numbers are wrong, or the people are. Sexual assault often leaves a stigmatizing fog in its wake, say the people involved — students, police officers, counselors, and administrators. That might complicate reporting, they say.