Campus / News / February 11, 2015

Activist group cautions prospective students

Does Knox College have a rape problem? The women’s advocacy group UltraViolet says the answer is yes, and they have mobilized an online campaign to warn prospective students.

The campaign aims to gather signatures on a petition urging The Princeton Review to change its website to supply prospective students with information about sexual assault on campuses. However, members of the Knox community as well as prospective students express mixed reactions to the petition.

The ad reads “Knox College has a rape problem, find out more before you apply,” and is targeted toward prospective students of Knox College. It is one of several similar ads aimed at students who are interested in the 95 schools being investigated for Title IX complaints.

Assistant Director of Outreach Advancement and Admission Student Calling Programs Melinda Craddock reports that the Admissions calling center has yet to encounter prospective students or parents inquiring about the UltraViolet ads.

“If a parent or student asked me about the UltraViolet ads, I would tell them that there is, in fact, a rape problem across the nation right now. However, places like Knox College are working to make reporting instances of sexual assault as easy as possible,” Craddock explained.

While Craddock agrees that the college, along with the nation, has a rape problem, she points to error in the petitioner’s request of the Princeton Review.

“I think that sexual assault information about schools definitely should be reported, but I’m not sure The Princeton Review is the correct outlet for that,” Craddock said.

The Princeton Review gathers all of its information from student surveys, a process which Craddock and others feel would lead to inaccuracies in reports of sexual assault.

“The sexual assault information would be based solely on student opinion,” Craddock explained.

However, many disregard this reasoning.

“The Princeton Review ranks colleges based on a number of factors — from dining hall food, to campus life, to drinking culture — if the Princeton Review feels that it can responsibly collect data that would provide an accurate and fair basis to report such a list from surveys of college administrators or of college students, we have a hard time believing that it can’t also ask questions on experiences with sexual assault on campus,” Kaili Lamb, Campaign Director for the UltraViolet Team, argued.

Senior Maz King views this reasoning as an unacceptable excuse aimed to protect the schools that benefit from ratings on the Princeton Review’s website.

“Truthfulness and student safety is more important than any school’s reputation,” King said.

Some supporters of UltraViolet’s ads find value not just in the petition but in the act of advertising Knox’s rape problem to the public.

“These ads amplify the voices of campus activists and keep the issue on the college’s agenda,” Allie Fry, a recent graduate of Knox and founder of the college’s Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention club, said.

Fry added that the ads educate prospective students and allow them to make better-informed decisions about which college to attend.

“If I had been aware as a prospective student of the extent of Knox’s negligence, I would have chosen a school with better resources,” Fry said.

For those being targeted by the campaign, the ads do not always influence their decisions about which college to attend.

Andrea Lopez, 36, of Galesburg, has four teenage daughters, one of which is expected to attend Knox College. While the ads haven’t deterred Lopez from sending her daughter to Knox, she explained that they might prompt her to better educate her daughters about sexual assault.

“If the situation of the school having a higher rape problem persists, I would give her increased insight to those type of situations to promote her awareness. I would look into which types of rape are happening and teach her to avoid those situations whenever possible,” Lopez said.

Others find issues with the lack of information supplied by the ads and the terminology being used.

Lluvia Lopez, 17, recently graduated from Galesburg High School and plans to attend a university or college but said that the ads would not influence her decision to apply to a college.

“To me the ads seem like slander,” Lopez said. She explains that the ads would be more effective if they supplied information, including statistics, about the school’s rape problem. “My initial reaction to these ads is to not take them very seriously because of the way they are presented,” she said.

Erica Baumgardner

Tags:  admissions Allie Fry allies for sexual assault prevention melinda craddock princeton review prospective students sexual assault title ix ultraviolet

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