UND General Info | UND Medical School | UND Discussion | Other Sites | Look Back

On 3 March 2000, Dean of the UND Law School, Jeremy Davis told the Grand Forks Herald  Some [of the claims on this web site] are dubious. For example, no story or evidence backs up the heading, "Possibly hundreds of UND women are raped each year." Well, Mr. Davis, here's that story, reprinted in its entirety. Happy reading Jeremy.

Grand Forks Herald, May 19, 1991


Kathryn Sweney, Herald Staff Writer

UND women -- possibly hundreds -- are raped each year according to those who assist victims. Almost none are reported.

But while some college administrators nationally are under fire for reportedly covering up rapes to protect their colleges image. UND officials apparently are trying to encourage women to come forward and report them.

Nancy Nienhuis, director of the Women's Center, said from her experience working with students, she is convinced there were literally hundreds of rapes on campus last year.

But no rapes were reported to UND police for the 1989-90 academic year. During the 1990-91 year one rape and one attempted rape were reported to UND police. A third woman reported a rape and then decided not to press charges. Chief Diane Czapiewski said. After being in counseling, a fourth woman reported a rape that had occurred months before.

Similarly on six rape were reported for the city police in 1990. But 83 rapes were reported to the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center in 1990, according to Beth Benson director of the center. Thirty sexual assault victims came into the center between January and April, she said.

Nationally estimates are that only one in 10 rapes in reported said Lilian Elsinga, UND dean she would guess that the numbers in Grand Forks are very similar.

"I don't think we touch the tip of the iceberg," Benson said

Why rapes aren't reported

"If there are so many rapes why are so few reported."

There are many answers. Some people put the blame on social attitudes that still regard rape as a sexual act rather than an act of violence. Others say that blaming the victim or unresponsive attitudes from officials or friends and family are part of the problem. Still other say that the difficulty of getting a conviction discourages people from reporting.

Part of the problem at UND, Nienhuis said, is that often young women believe some of the myths about rape, myths like. "You can't be raped by someone you know," for example. Often a woman may not realize how much impact a rape has until along after the event, she said.

One of the most prevalent myths about rape is that the rapist is usually a stranger. Perhaps the myth lives on because it is less scary than the truth which is that a woman is much more likely to be raped by someone she knows.

National statistics indicate that women know their assailants 60 percent to 70 percent of the time. On college campuses women know their assailant 80 percent to 90 percent the time.

When a woman knows her assailant her first reaction is often not anger but self-blame. Nienhuis said. She'll think. "What did I do?" I shouldn't have gone out with someone I didn't know that well." I shouldn't have gone to that party." I shouldn't worn that." I shouldn't have been drinking."

Part of the healing is to place the blame where it belongs, on the rapist, not the woman who was raped, Nienhuis said.

UND responding well

Benson said that UND has always worked well with the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center. "Sometimes individual victims don't always feel that things were handled appropriately," Benson said. But part of that is because the woman would like to see the perpetrator just disappear, she said.

Neinhuis also gives UND good grade.

"I know people aren't interested in protecting UND's image," she said. "They are much more interested in seeing that women are taken care of."

All UND departments encourage people to report rape and give information about the process, Czapiewski said. Even if a woman thinks she doesn't want to press charges, she should report it to police and go through the medical exam because that preserves the evidence, he said.

Also, if police know, they can increase patrols in an area, and can let the public know what happened, Czapiewski said.

Nienhuis has observed UND police interact with victims as part of a crisis response team that offers help to students in any kind of crisis.

"In my experience, campus police, all males have been really good in the way they handled victims," Nienhuis said. "They haven't asked blaming questions, and I pick up on that stuff right away."

Czapiewski is a good man with a solid heart, and he would do anything he could to help women," Nienhuis said.

The crisis team makes referrals and encourages women to report assaults, said Kathy Fick, campus minister at Christus Rex. UND Police are very aggressive at trying to find assailants, she said. "I've been suprised. It feels a little different than you might expect from a state institution."

More emotional support

There have been changes in people's attitudes about rape. Friends used to be horrified and shocked when a woman talked about rape, further traumatizing the woman, Fick said. Now, friends are more likely to offer emotional support and encourage the woman to report it.

"I'm sensing that more people are willing to come forward," Dean Elsinga said. Rape is unbelievable to many people, and there is often a lot of self-blame and sometimes family members blame victims also, she said. But there has been a lot of education about the topic of abuse and the more supportive atmosphere lessens the trauma and encourages women to report.

There will be a change in the Code of Student Life next fall that should help women students, Elsinga said. Students felt that where there had been an assault the victim should not have to be in a class with the assaulter. As a result, the assaulter would be asked to leave campus until the person who has assaulted had completed the degree.

Another charge should also help students who want to report a rape. Now, a woman who want to report a rape must appear before a committee of about 10 people and tell her story, Elsinga said. Students want to make that process less intimidating by reducing the number of people who would be present.