Controversial Washington Post column on campus rape

Hillary Haldane

Hillary Haldane, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is an expert on violence against women. She is available to discuss Washington Post columnist George Will's recent column that claimed that colleges confer special privileges on survivors of rape, which in turn, he asserts, produces more victimization on campus.

"Will's comments, while erroneous, illustrate the difficultly universities face in their efforts to combat sexual assault on their campus," Haldane said. "When you have leading op-ed writers questioning the validity of survivors' claims of campus assault, you make it that much more difficult to get the public to believe the terrible truth about campus rape. It is happening not because campuses recognize victims, but because we live in a society that has extremely high levels of violence against women."  

President Obama and his administration have made preventing sexual violence and adhering to Title IX a priority for universities and colleges. In early 2014, President Obama designated a task force specifically charged with identifying best practices to help universities in their efforts to change campus culture.  

"Will's comments fly in the face of the efforts many universities have made to make their campuses safe for everyone, to prevent sexual assault, and to ensure that victims do have the services and support they need in case a crime is committed against them," Haldane said. "Are universities perfect? No. Is there more to be done? Yes. But to claim that universities are inventing the problem only illustrates the wider social fault lines between those working to end violence and those who deny its existence."

Haldane has written several articles, book chapters and an edited volume devoted to the problem of gender-based violence. Her recent 2012 article on changing campus rape culture was nominated for the top article award for the scholarly journal "Violence Against Women." She has also worked for the United Nations in drafting the framework for addressing violence against women at the international level.

To schedule an interview with Haldane, please contact John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449 (cell) or 203-582-5359 (office).

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