One in Four founder questions co-ed assault education

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April 15, 2008

2:23 AM

Critics fire back that One in Four distorts statistics

Next spring, new methods of sexual assault education will have students at the College discussing rape in a mixed-gender setting. The change is causing increased scrutiny of the policy as well as rape prevention groups such as One in Four.

Although supported by the Student Assembly, the new measure has some in the sexual assault prevention community upset.
The details of the co-ed program were revealed at an April 2 meeting of the SA. Professor John Foubert ’90, the founder and faculty advisor of rape prevention group One in Four, and Adam Rosen ’09 opposed the new measure. Rosen called it ineffective and cited research published by Foubert. Currently, sexual assault education is only conducted in same-sex situations.

Katie Dixon ’09, SA undersecretary for sexual assault prevention and a member of Every 2 Minutes, explained the reasoning for the new policy and said it was important for sexual assault prevention educators to “listen to their peers and entertain fresh ideas, as well as promoting a campus feeling of respect toward one another.”

Foubert said he could not recommend the new policy, however.

“Sometimes it is worth trying something not within the research,” Foubert said in reference to the new program. “However, that’s not something I would openly recommend. I think sexual assault programming decisions should be made by people who have been doing this work for a while and not the Student Assembly.”

In response to Rosen and Foubert’s questioning of the new program, some have looked into One in Four.

A member of the SA who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that One in Four has used “intimidation tactics” in past dealings with the SA. In the 2006-07 school year, the Senate approved 58 percent of the money requested by One in Four. But records show that then-SA president Ryan Scofield, a One in Four member, granted the full amount requested. Scofield also proposed a measure that allowed SA funds to pay for One in Four’s t-shirts, even though an SA code prohibits the use of SA funds for t-shirts.

One in Four President Brett Rector ’09 said he had no knowledge of these past events, but he pointed out that One in Four is no longer funded by the SA.

Recently, Foubert opposed using SA funds to support the Sex Workers’ Art Show, saying it could increase incidents of rape on campus because some research shows that exposure to pornography increases a man’s chances of committing rape. Foubert’s stance on that issue should not be interpreted as the position of One in Four, SA member Nick Metheny ’09 said.
Foubert initiated the group One in Four at the University of Richmond in 1998. In the fall of 2002, Foubert founded a chapter at the College. His goal in founding the group was to teach men how to help sexual assault survivors.

“I founded One in Four to empower men to be part of the solution and not to be part of the problem,” he said.

Foubert acted as the president of One in Four until last year and now serves on the Board of Directors of the national organization.

In addition to his work for the organization, Foubert researches sexual assault prevention. His 2000 study in The Journal of American College Health formed the basis of One in Four, which now has 37 chapters on college campuses.

But some have criticized One in Four’s name, which comes from a 1982 survey of college women.

The study, which found that 27 percent of college-aged women had either been subjected to rape or subjected to attempted rape, did not ask subjects whether they thought they had been raped. Instead it asked, “have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?”

In a follow-up to the study published later, in 1988, it was reported that 73 percent of the women that had been counted as rape victims did not feel they had been raped. Forty-nine percent said that the incident was rather the result of a “miscommunication.” The total percentage of women who characterized their own experience as rape was only 4 percent.
But some scholars say that it is better to use indirect measures of rape rather than openly asking.

“It is standard scientific practice for researchers to establish their own operational definitions,” researchers argued in a 1994 paper published in the Journal of Sex Research. “For example, a scientist doing research on gifted children would establish her or his own definition of ‘gifted’ rather than letting individuals decide for themselves whether they were gifted.”

There have been several studies on both sides of the debate in the last 25 years. But Foubert considers the case closed.

“The One in Four statistic has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Foubert said, citing some meta-analyses of rape that have been done on college campuses to support the One in Four statistic.

“The research shows that [One in Four] is the most effective rape prevention program ever shown in the literature,” Foubert said.

Flat Hat News Editor Maxim Lott also contributed to this article.

Correction: The original article said that Adam Rosen ’09 is a member of One in Four, which is not the case.

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