Colleges Work to Stem Date Rape

By Pfankuch, Thomas B. | The Florida Times Union, November 18, 1996 | Go to article overview

Colleges Work to Stem Date Rape


Pfankuch, Thomas B., The Florida Times Union


An honest but frightening statement made recently by a

University of Florida fraternity member seemed to sum up some

students' lack of understanding of sexual assaults, one of the

biggest problems on college campuses today, a counselor said.

During a presentation on sexual assault and date rape, the man

seemed perplexed while university counselor Maggie Gerard tried

to explain how alcohol, parties and a lack of respect for others

can lead to unwanted sex.

"I don't understand why there's a problem," the fraternity

brother told her. "Women who come here know what they're getting

into."

The statement caught Gerard off-guard, and her response was

fueled by all her efforts of trying to help the 18 women who

reported a sexual assault at the state's largest university last

year.

"I said, `Wait a minute, you're saying someone who comes to

your house and has a drink should expect that you're going to

assault them in some way?' " said Gerard, the victim advocate at

the university in Gainesville. "That's a leap that only animals

make, and this is coming from a very well-educated man."

Even as universities and colleges have tried to educate

students about sexual assault and make them think about one

another's rights and feelings, the number of reported assaults

has held steady or even increased at some state schools

recently, officials said.

At Florida State University in Tallahassee, for example, the

number of reported assaults rose from an average of 30 in past

years to 50 last year, said victim advocate Susan Komarek.

Komarek speculates the increased number of assault reports

stems from a general lack of respect people have for one

another.

"It could be that there's an across-the-board increase in

violence in our culture," Komarek said. "For whatever reason,

the act itself has increased."

Traditionally, said Anita Vorreyer-Hedges, a victim advocate at

the University of North Florida, college campuses have been ripe

for sexual assault and date rape, also known as acquaintance

rape, where a woman is assaulted or battered by a man she knows

or has dated.

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