Campus sexual assault is not a made-up problem

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As the mother of a daughter who will go to college in two years, I found George F. Will’s June 8 op-ed column, “A lesson for colleges,” disgusting.

To use the topic of campus assaults in furthering his tiresome war on all regulation, Mr. Will cherry-picked a dubious example to illustrate the problem, then called upon loose logic to claim that campus assaults are not enough of an issue to merit governmental attention. Is he really that out of touch?

Campus assault is a huge and very common problem. I know several young women whose lives were at least temporarily derailed because of it. Thank heaven that campus assault is finally getting the attention it deserves and that opinions like those of Mr. Will will not make it easier to let boys be boys.

Heidi Fielding, Alexandria

George F. Will’s opinion on what he termed “sexual assault” (with the quote marks) was ill-informed, and the publication of his June 8 op-ed column lent credence to the idea that sexual assault is a phantom problem not worthy of governmental or societal scrutiny.

Mr. Will relied upon reported statistics from one large university (hardly a representative sample of U.S. institutions) and used estimates from two studies (estimates being extremely important in this specific case) to extrapolate through some limber mathematics that sexual assault is not a serious problem on college campuses and does not require intervention by the Obama administration. This conclusion, drawn from a flawed understanding of how math, statistics and research work, effectively undermines efforts by many groups to encourage the reporting of sexual assault — for instance, on college campuses and in the U.S. military.

Sexual assault is not a liberal phenomenon. It is a real problem, the scope of which we barely understand because victims are reluctant to come forward. It deserves to be treated with gravitas, not bloviating.

Stephanie M. Burchard, Arlington

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