Researchers find campus rape linked to alcohol

January 11, 1991|By Diane Winston

Amid mounting concern about campus crime, researchers suggest a new survey released in Baltimore yesterday indicates many university-related rapes involve two of three common denominators: fraternities, athletes and alcohol.

"The statistics are a validation of things most of us have known for a long time: Fraternity members and athletes are the most violent members of college campuses," said Jan-Mitchell Sherrill, director of the Campus Violence Prevention Center at Towson State University.

"Now that the statistics have made this astonishingly clear, the question is whether college administrators are going to act," she said.

The study, "The Links Among Drugs, Alcohol and Student Crime," was released at the Towson Sheraton during the Fifth National Conference on Campus Violence. Researchers at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Campus Violence at Towson State University sent questionnaires to 60,000 students nationwide. Data from 12,600 anonymous responses was examined for clues on the nature of campus crime and the personality types who commit and who are victimized by it.

The survey, whose findings mirrored a much smaller sample studied by Towson State researchers in 1989, found that becoming a crime victim has become an extremely common aspect of campus life. More than 37 percent of students said they had been the victim of a campus crime at some point in their college career. The most common crimes were theft, vandalism, physi

cal assault, sexually related violence and robbery. Among other findings:

* Students who reported committing a campus crime reported more frequent drug and alcohol use than students who had not committed a crime since enrolling in college.

* Students who had been the victim of a campus crime did not report as much drug and alcohol use as students who committed crimes, but they did report more frequent drug and alcohol use than students who had not been involved in crime.

* The more violent crimes were associated with more frequent drug and alcohol use, and victims of sexual crimes reported more drug and alcohol use around the time of the crime than did victims of property crimes.

The data also has enabled researchers to develop profiles for students at risk for being both perpetrators and victims of campus crime.

Students who are victims of crime tend to be heavier users of illicit drugs, use more alcohol and be more likely to smoke, be slightly older, be a fraternity or sorority member, own a car, have a job and live off campus, the researchers said. Perpetrators of student crime tend to be even heavier users of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, males, athletes or fraternity or sorority members, and have slightly lower grade point averages.

Although the researchers received data on only 40 instances of date rape, they took particular note of the phenomena, which is becoming more widely reported on campuses.

Since this fall, Towson State has had two rapes -- neither of them a date rape -- and one attempted rape.

Charles Maloy, director of counseling services at Towson State, said the data indicates greater use of alcohol and drugs around the time of rape by the victim as well as by the assailant and a greater likelihood of rape occurring in connection with some kind of party.

"Date rape should be avoidable if a student is willing to restrain her alcohol consumption around fraternity parties and athletes," Dr. Maloy told an audience of several dozen students, counselors and administrators.

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