See the original blog post, "PLP Defends Rapists" for the announcement and call to action regarding PLP's defense of admitted rapist Seth Miller.

***TRIGGER WARNING*** Everything in this blog is a frank discussion of sexual violence and rape.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“We Are Proud of our Record”: Administrative Complicity and Campus Rape Culture at UCLA

Part Two in a series on rape culture at UCLA.

Earlier we provided a short timeline of rape-related events at UCLA over the last few years. This list reflects only the small number of rapists and rape apologists who ended up in the news, but as we are all aware, the number of sexual assaults and rapes reported to police is substantially smaller than the number of rapes that are actually committed. We won’t rehash well-known—and, unfortunately, often challenged—statistics about rape under-reporting, except to point out that this under-reporting is a serious symptom of both rape culture and white supremacy. It is no different for UCLA, which also has a well-documented history of racist, sexist attacks against women of color.

Rapes go unreported because victims are left with the burden of proof, and that burden can result in unbearable shaming, blaming, retaliation, and trauma, all of which are often equally as awful as the experience of being assaulted in the first place. Women of color face even further limited access to legal interventions because of a whole host of historical and structural forces. Court systems are material locations of white, male supremacy and are therefore untenable solutions for sexual assault and rape.

All of these problems with rape reporting are replicated at UCLA because of the violent rape culture sustained by our campus administration. Anti-rape education at UCLA consists of telling women how to avoid assault. No one is telling men not to be rapists. People who speak out against rape and try to shift the conversation to changing men’s behavior are retaliated against with repressive bullying from misogynistic students who are “insulted” by the insinuation that their classmates could be rapists. One professor in a life sciences department routinely opens his lecture by having a female student handle an unidentified substance in front of the whole class—the student is only informed that the substance is semen after she’s already held it in her hands. Academic departments consistently tell students who have been sexually assaulted that they should be careful not to ruin the lives of their assailants by spreading dangerous “rumors.”

We know that campus administration treats instances of rape as exceptional circumstances without acknowledging the extent to which misogyny and sexual violence are part of everyday life on our campus. UCLA administrators fail to understand rape culture’s pervasiveness. Instead, they’ve said that they’re proud of their rape record because it shows students are more comfortable reporting rapes to campus police than at other universities. According to these administrators, UCLA has fostered a safe campus climate with regard to sexual assault responses due in large part to hiring a woman to head up the UCLA police department. UCLA has provided zero qualitative or quantitative evidence to suggest that there is correlation between a woman chief of police and higher rape reporting figures. To suggest that we should somehow celebrate the campus’s high reporting percentage misses the point: UCLA has a rape problem.

UCLA’s argument is designed to dodge a much more terrifying possibility: that more reported rapes than average also means more unreported rapes. Reported rapes figures always only scratch the surface of actual incidences of rape. UCLA doesn’t want us to ask the question: if this many are being reported, how many more remain unreported?

It is obvious that UCLA has a rape problem. So what are we going to do about it?

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