Sexual assault reports increase by 28 percent on game days

By Gillian Dunlop, Assistant News Editor

The multi-billion dollar college football industry has led to a culture of pre-game drinking and socializing at some campuses, potentially leading to a 28 percent increase in sexual assault reports on game days, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by the American Economic Journal, revealed that the reported increase is by women ages 17 to 24 on football game days. These effects are even greater at Division 1A universities.

Although no exact reason for the increase is outlined, the study provides “support for partying as the likely causal pathway.”

Game days at the University are often celebrated by what is known as Block. Typically, a sorority and fraternity pair up during Block and drink in excess at different bars and venues around campus beginning at about noon and ending at 3 p.m.

“There’s … a lot more variety of drinks during the day,” Alicia Coddington, member of Alpha Epsilon Phi and sophomore in DGS, said. “You can still drink throughout the night. You start drinking earlier (during Block).”

The study reported that sexual assault reports on game days increase by 41 percent during home games as compared to away games, where the reports increase by only 15 percent. Although not stated as a direct cause, Block only occurs during home games.

“There are drink deals and stuff like that, so you can get drinks for cheaper and longer,” Coddington said. “Guys are probably looking to take advantage of girls.”

These percentages “imply that these games cause 724 additional rapes per year across the 128 schools participating in Division 1A,” according to the study.

UIPD spokesperson Patrick Wade said that University police do not focus on the eradication of alcohol during game days, but rather how to consume it properly.

“I wouldn’t say we (are) trying to reduce the amount of alcohol consumption,” he said. “Our approach is more of what are the safe and healthy ways to use alcohol versus just trying to eliminate it altogether. That’s not gonna happen.”

The study reported that two-thirds of student rape victims are intoxicated. However, the blame is on the perpetrator.

“Alcohol is a factor, but it is something to keep in mind, that perpetrators are using alcohol as a tool to facilitate an assault and that it’s not the survivor’s fault for drinking,” said Jaya Kolisetty, associate director of R.A.C.E.S:, Rape, Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services.

Another possible reason for the increase in sexual assaults, is that game day parties do not have the stigma attached to them that frat parties have.

“My friends don’t feel comfortable going to frat parties, but a lot more people feel comfortable going to games and tailgates because it’s a more relaxed atmosphere,” Coddington said.

This relaxed atmosphere, however, can be deceiving.

“I never really think about it being dangerous during game days, and maybe that’s one of the problems,” she added. “People are being blindsided.”

Wade, however, said that another potential reason for the increase of reported assaults on game days is because game days and the weekend often coincide, which is where the majority of student drinking takes place.

“There are 358 other days in the year where these are just as high-risk situations…I would say that Fridays and Saturdays, at night, are the peak times for getting sexual assault reports for us, anyway,” he said.

Although the amount of police presence on game days has increased, it is “mainly just to deal with crowds more than anything,” he added.

Coddington said that she was surprised to hear about the study’s conclusion that there is a 28 percent increase in sexual assault reports on game days.

“You never think something is going to happen to you on game days,” she said.

Niani Scott contributed reporting.

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