Time The recent media swarm around an anguished report of rape at Amherst College, in Massachusetts, is understandable, especially when every day seems to bring another grotesque proclamation from a political figure appearing to minimize, or even justify, rape. But the gravity of sexual assault shouldn’t be an excuse to draw black-and-white conclusions about the problem of rape on college campuses.
Most rapes are hard to prosecute, in part because they rarely have witnesses, but college rapes on college campuses are an even bigger challenge because at least 90% of alleged rapes are between people who know each other (often boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, or current friends and acquaintances). College rapes also typically involve less physical evidence (like signs of physical struggle), and one or both parties are more likely to be intoxicated by alcohol, often making it hard for the alleged victim and assailant to recall or report a clear story. College-rape survivors sometimes delay reporting rape, as the Amherst survivor did, until they have concluded that they were in fact raped — an ambiguity that is much less common in the general population. [...]