This week, A.J. Delgado argued in the National Review Online that the campus rape epidemic is a myth. Slate's Katy Waldman summarized Delgado's opinion as suggesting what passes as sexual assault in college was "a conspiracy by the Left to brainwash young women into ruining men’s lives."
But if one were to try and look up statistics about rape on campus, they may run into a problem: few colleges actually refer to these crimes as rape. Colleges and universities often list rapes as "forcible sex offenses" in annual crime reports, and their codes of conduct prefer to use the terms "sexual misconduct" or "nonconsensual sex."
(Watch a HuffPost Live discussion on myths around sexual violence on campus and how colleges respond in the video above.)
As The Huffington Post previously reported, one staffer at Occidental College was directed against using the term "sexual assault," and told instead to call it "sexual misconduct" when designing materials for a town hall on the issue.
People didn't just start recently objecting to use of the term either. As Feministing wrote about "nonconsensual sex" in 2011:
There is no such thing. Sex is something that happens when the parties involved are all consenting. Rape isn’t sex, it’s an act of violence, and if there’s no consent it’s rape. (I can’t believe I actually just wrote that. Haven’t feminists already made this one clear, over and over and over and over and over again?)
Al Jazeera America explained earlier this month the consulting and law firm the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management helped push colleges toward using terms "nonconsensual sexual intercourse" and "nonconsensual sexual contact." The reasoning was to help colleges admit sexual violence happened on campus and stop being "squeamish about it." But colleges have morphed that idea into just using "nonconsensual sex" instead.
CORRECTION: This article originally misattributed a line from Slate writer Katy Waldman's review of A.J. Delgado's piece as a direct quote by Delgado. We regret the error and have corrected the story.