What College Football Game Days Mean for Rape

January 4th 2016

There is a connection between college football game days and college-aged women reporting rape, according to a new paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study.

Dr. Jason Lindo, a professor of economics at Texas A&M University, studied more than two decades of FBI data to look at "reports of rape to the law enforcement agencies serving students at Division 1 schools on game days to reports on non-game days, controlling for differences expected across different days of the week and times of the year," The Washington Post reports.

Dr. Lindo and his team found that football games are associated with up to 770 additional rapes annually in the 128 schools in Division 1A. Rape reports by women ages 17-24 increased by 41 percent on home game days and jumped 15 percent on away game days. When less qualified teams beat higher ranked teams, rape reports soared nearly 60 percent.

RELATED: Researchers Just Found A Way To Reduce Sexual Assault on Campuses

The authors noted the possibility that rapists think their punishment will be less severe with alcohol involved.

“Potential perpetrators may believe that the probability of being punished (and the degree of punishment) will be lower if they and/or their victims are inebriated,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Lindo told The Washington Post that he and his fellow researchers weren't looking to point a finger at football games, but merely trying to see if there is a tie between events with heavy drinking and crime rates. Dr. Lindo's crime data also showed a spike of 54 percent in arrests for disorderly conduct on home game days, 20 percent for DUIs on home game days, and nearly 90 percent for public intoxication on home game days.

The majority of the women assaulted in this data said they were assaulted by people they didn't know. This is a stark contrast to overall data about sexual assault from the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which reveals that 82 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.


RELATED:Lady Gaga Shows the Brutal Impact of Sexual Assault in a New PSA

Alcohol and sexual assault.

Dr. Lindo isn't the first to research the connection between drinking and assaults. A 2009 study in the Journal of American College Health found that nearly 20 percent of undergraduate women experienced a completed sexual assault since starting college, and the majority of these assaults took place after the women had been drinking.

"Most sexual assaults occurred after women voluntarily consumed alcohol, whereas few occurred after women had been given a drug without their knowledge or consent," the authors wrote.

Of course, the solution should not be to tell young women to "stop getting drunk," as writer Emily Yoffe suggested several years ago in a highly controversial Slate piece about college sexual assault. Dr. Lindo said schools should more seriously police their campuses on game days and put more effort into their rape prevention programs so students have a better understanding of consent and how to help victims.

RELATED: The Real Cost Of Sexual Assault

The larger issues of sexual assault on college campuses.

Last year, Inside Higher Ed released its fifth annual Survey of College and University Presidents, which found that one third of college presidents understand that campus sexual assault is prevalent in the American college system. Only 6 percent of the surveyed college presidents, however, think sexual assault is prevalent on their own campuses. One in five undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault while they're in college, according to a 2007 U.S. Department of Justice study, so it's highly likely that many college presidents merely don't view this as their problem, even though it is.

In 2015, producer Amy Ziering released "The Hunting Ground," a documentary about college sexual assault. Watch the trailer below.

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