My name is Katie Mahon, and I am one of the coordinators of Students Stopping Rape, an organization of undergraduate and graduate students who help educate the UCSB and the surrounding community about how to prevent, create awareness and facilitate discussion about sexual assault.
I am writing in response to Wednesday’s article “Yearly Brief Notes Crime Fluctuation for UC Campuses” (Daily Nexus, Oct. 5, 2005). First of all, kudos to the Nexus for including this article; in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crimes Statistics Act, statistics on reported crimes are published annually, and this year, were sent to all UCSB students via email.
The article stated that between 2003 and 2004, there were a total of 13 forcible sexual offenses on campus. Furthermore, the Clery Report shows that nine of these incidents were reported to law enforcement. In addition, there were 12 reported incidents in Isla Visa and one reported incident in a student organization (this includes any organization that is affiliated with UCSB, but does not have a residence on campus). All of this means that in 2004, there were 22 forcible sexual offenses that were reported to law enforcement on campus and in I.V. I am writing to explain all of these numbers.
First of all, it is important to note that these statistics include only the reported cases of forcible sex. In a study done at 32 universities it was found that only five percent of rape survivors report their rapes to law enforcement. This means that over 400 incidences of rape could have occurred last year on campus and in I.V. which would mean that over 400 women were the victims — and I hate using that word because these women are much more powerful than what the word implies — of a horrific and brutal crime.
So now you see why I am writing this article. I was really afraid that too many people would pick up last Wednesday’s paper, read that 13 rapes had occurred over the past year and shrug it off as no big deal – as something that could never affect them. If you ask me, 400 rapes is way too many. If you ask me, one rape is too many. These numbers — these women being raped — are our roommates, our girlfriends, our sisters, our classmates, our neighbors — they could even be us.
I am not writing this article to scare any of you; I am writing to shock you. I am writing to show you that sexual assault is a huge problem in Isla Vista and the rest of the world, and I am writing in hopes that you will want to do something about this problem. Students Stopping Rape is a great place to start learning about rape culture, sexual violence, and what you can do to help make the world a safer place for all women. We meet on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Women’s Center and are always happy to have new members. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or just want more information, please feel free to contact me at the Women’s Center at 893-3778 or you can check out our website at http://orgs.sa.ucsb.edu/ssr.
Katie Mahon is a third-year communication and sociology major.