I was very pleased to read the opinion piece challenging the offensive and poorly researched article written by Ohio University senior Tom Pernecker. As a Miami University alumni who is currently working with the Title IX movement, which aims to educate and spread awareness about sexual assault and harassment, I wanted to take this opportunity to expand on a few of the excellent points Brett Milam made in his column.
First, I applaud Milam’s inclusion of the fraternity email in which a student instructed his brothers to “get more alcohol, when all else fails” as a way to demonstrate that alcohol does not ’cause’ rape but is actually used as a tool by rapists.
Research in the last few decades has indeed revealed the extent to which rape is a premeditated and calculated crime, and how college rapists-most of whom are serial predators-use alcohol as their “weapon of choice.”
David Lysak’s recent research, which spanned over 20 years, has revealed that the vast majority of rapes on campus are committed by a small group of predators who are able to operate because a larger rape culture allows it and because institutional support for survivors is not in place. So an article like Pernecker’s, as was reiterated in Milam’s column, only gives these rapists the social license to operate, by ignoring years of research and instead questioning whether rape is simply due to an “accident” or “misunderstanding”.
Furthermore, the correlation between alcohol and sexual assault is not as strongly linked as one might suspect. Although rape has been declining in the general population-and has remained about the same at universities over the last few decades-binge drinking has actually increased. And recent research has found that intimate partner violence decreases as societies move towards greater gender equality-not as alcohol use declines. That is not to say that alcohol isn’t a factor in sexual assault, as it can be used as a tool by rapists, but the point is that alcohol is just one of the many tools at the rapist’s disposal. Taking alcohol away from students isn’t a guarantee that someone won’t find other ways to commit rape.
Finally, I wanted to comment on the statistic that was mentioned about the rate of false accusations. Milam cited that the number is between 8 and 10 percent, but keep in mind that that number includes cases that are dismissed because there isn’t enough evidence-such as a woman showering herself after the assault-and the survivor simply not wanting to go through with a legal proceeding. The FBI estimates the number of actual fake rape accusations is closer to 1 or 2 percent, which is the same rate as other crimes. So this concern over “false accusations” pales in comparison to the concern we should be giving to the fact that only 37 percent of rapes are reported, and only 3 percent of rapists ever spend a day in jail.
As a Miami alum, I am proud that The Miami Student chose to respond to Pernecker’s damaging, poorly-written article, and I hope that my letter has helped to further illuminate the excellent points that were made in your response.