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Especially For Young Women

 
   

 

UCD rape figures do Not match 

Turning one rape into 2000 - by fudging the figures.

Terri Hardy and Matthew Barrows 

Sacramento Bee

UC Davis officials estimated in a 1999 federal grant application that as many as 700 of its students are victims of rape or attempted rape each year.

The statistic -- based on an extrapolation from national estimates -- figured prominently in the campus's bid to capture more than a half-million dollars in grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice.

But within months of submitting the application, the University of California, Davis, reported in its federally mandated crime report for students, parents and staff that there were no rapes or attempted rapes in 1998 for its main campus and medical center.

The 700 figure was also missing from a copy of the grant application the campus supplied The Bee last year during its investigation of how University of California campuses underreport and miscategorize crime statistics.

The grant application referred to the university's "invisible epidemic" of sexual assaults on campus. Despite that claim, the university crime statistics submitted to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Education under a law known as the Clery Act show only one rape from 1995 to 1998.

Steven Drown, campus counsel for UC Davis, said the 700 figure is only an estimate and the inconsistency between that number and the zero rapes reported that year is because very few victims report their crime to the police.

"An issue that all campuses are facing is that victims are not coming forward," he said.

Requests for comment from UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef were declined.

The grant application earned the school $543,000 for a two-year crime-fighting program on campus. Some of the money is being used to hire a detective, a victims advocate and a counselor. All three will concentrate on crimes against women.

Even though some university officials that handle sexual assaults and prepare the annual statistics acknowledged that the crime report numbers were not representative of the problem, they stated in interviews over several months in the spring and summer of 2000 that no accurate estimates were available.

The discrepancy between the grant application filed with the federal government and the one provided to the newspaper was discovered recently when The Bee subsequently requested a number of different documents through the state's public records act.

During that process, Lynette Temple, information practices coordinator for UC Davis, turned over the university's complete file on the federal grant, which included the application and correspondence. That application included the sentence: "And based on estimates from the National Victim Center, we believe that as many as 700 female students at UC Davis are the victims of rape or attempted rape each year."

An official copy of the application, provided to The Bee by the U.S. Department of Justice's legal counsel, confirmed that the sentence was included in the federal government's final copy of the application.

When The Bee published its stories in September, UC Davis administrators, in a nine-page letter to The Bee, said they contained widespread inaccuracies and demanded a retraction. They denied downplaying crime on campus. The Bee stood by its report.

In a recent interview, Jennifer Beeman, the director of the UC Davis' Campus Violence Prevention Program, said that there are several versions of the application and that The Bee was not intentionally given a copy that excluded the estimated 700 rapes and attempted rapes on campus.

That number was extrapolated from those provided by The National Victim Center, which estimates that "approximately 1 in 20 college women are victims of rape or attempted rape each year," according to UC Davis' grant application.

Beeman, who wrote the application, said she removed the sentence at the suggestion of a grant consultant who advised her that the Department of Justice would not be interested in extrapolated numbers.

She said during the application process in the summer of 1999, the Justice Department officials asked her to amend the application several times and as a result she has a number of copies of the application -- some with the sentence, some without.

"If (the sentence) is in there then it's a mistake," Beeman said. "I thought you had the copy I gave the feds. I obviously gave them the wrong copy."

Department of Justice officials said there is only one version of the grant application in their records, and that document includes the 700 estimate.

Beeman said she didn't give The Bee that figure during its investigation because she didn't think the newspaper was interested in extrapolated figures.

"It's a number that we use all the time when we do training," in the campus's violence prevention programs she said.

But Matt Huerta, president of Associated Students at UC Davis, said he's never heard the figure before.

"If it's true, it's horrendous," he said. "People are going to have to rethink what we perceive about our whole environment."

University officials have come under fire recently by campus leaders who have accused them of downplaying violent incidents involving students.

Huerta's student government group organized a campus safety forum last month, citing increased racial tensions, hostilities between fraternities and a growing level of fear among students. At the 90-minute meeting attended by about 50 students, staff and faculty members, many said hate crimes were on the rise, while others complained that university officials rarely addressed the problem of rape on campus.

In the weeks before the forum, members of the Associated Students also charged that university officials were not forthcoming in providing details about the suspicious death of student Andrew Wieman, who was found dead in his on-campus fraternity room. And they criticized the university's decision to wait more than 24 hours to tell the rest of the campus about a possible homicide.

 

 



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