By Tara Culp-Ressler on
December 20, 2013 at 9:11 am
"‘Men’s Rights’ Groups Are Spamming Occidental College With Hundreds Of False Rape Reports"
CREDIT: Occidental College
Occidental College has been flooded with over 400 false rape reports
this week as internet trolls have attempted to prove a point about the
school’s anonymous reporting system, according to college officials.
Now, administrators are being forced to weed through the barrage of
reports to determine if any real sexual assaults were reported during
Members of the online communities Reddit and 4Chan, many of whom
identify themselves as “men’s right activists,” started spamming
Occidental after a user complained
that it’s too easy to abuse the college’s anonymous reporting system.
“Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously
report rape/sexual assault. You just fill out a form and the person is
called into the office on a rape charge. The ‘victim’ never has to prove
anything or reveal their identity,” a user in the “Men’s Rights” subreddit wrote, and provided a link to the school’s form.
That spurred a flood of false reports, some of which claimed that assaults had been perpetrated by “Occidental College,” “feminists” or “Fatty McFatFat.” It was clear to administration officials
that those reports “were clearly not made in good faith,” and the sheer
number of reports — over 400 in just 36 hours — was also suspicious.
Occidental has recently made national headlines for its lackluster sexual assault policies. Some students say the university isn’t accurately reporting the number of rapes that occur on campus, and accuse administrators of inappropriately retaliating against the activists who have pushed for better systems. The college is currently subject to an ongoing federal investigation into the way it handles sexual assault — an increasingly prominent issue on campuses across the country.
But the Los Angeles Times reports
that the anonymous reporting form in question isn’t actually a result
of that recent push to hold Occidental accountable for its sexual
assault policies. It was first implemented back in 2009 to encourage
more victims to come forward. The allegations are reviewed by campus
administrators and primarily used to track patterns, since the
individuals who commit sexual assaults in college are typically serial rapists.
“The challenge for the college is not false reports,” a spokesperson for Occidental College explained.
“Our experience is those are rare. The challenge for the college is
getting the survivors to report, either to the college or police or
both. Sexual misconduct is underreported everywhere, and we’re
interested in providing as many options as possible.”
So-called “men’s rights groups” typically allege that efforts to
crack down on sexual assault end up victimizing men, who they claim
often become the subject of false rape reports. This isn’t the first
incidence of these internet users trolling a campus. In October, after
an Ohio University woman was photographed receiving oral sex in public
and later filed a report saying she was assaulted, “men’s rights”
supporters attempted to harass the women in question. They incorrectly
identified her as a different Ohio University student, and posted that
student’s contact information online. After she was flooded with messages calling her a liar, she withdrew from her classes and was afraid to leave her home.
Despite the fears fueling “men’s rights” supporters, false rape reports are very rare. Just 2 to 8 percent of reported rapes are based on false claims, and the women who file false claims often receive punishments that are far worse
than the consequences for actual rapists. For instance, at Occidental
College, some students who have been charged with rape have allegedly
received punishments as light as being assigned a five-page book report.
Dr. Lisa Wade, an associate professor at Occidental who runs the Sociological Images blog, told Gawker
that the flood of false reports is an example of a privileged class
lashing out over losing some of that privilege. “The men targeting
Occidental’s anonymous report form are mad that women are being listened
to, that men’s voices are no longer given so much power that they can
effectively drown out the voices of women,” Wade explained. “They’re mad because they’re not the only ones that matter anymore. I get it. To them, it really does feel unfair.”