A University of Wollongong academic has co-authored a study analysing the sinister side of college parties and finding a link between campus party culture and rape.
University gridiron games are a popular excuse for young people to throw or go to parties in the US. They’re predominantly held in dorm rooms or private homes because the majority of party-goers are under the legal drinking age of 21.
According to the study published in The National Bureau of Economic Research, there was a 28 per cent rise in reports of sexual assault from college-aged victims to law enforcement authorities on a game day. Home games saw a 41 per cent surge in reports, with sexual assault reports by strangers increasing by 61 per cent.
The study by UOW’s Paul Siminski, Montana State University’s Isaac Swensen and Texas A&M University’s Jason Lindo, used local-area crime data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and matched it to a sample of US universities with Division 1 football programs.
It’s the first time Dr Siminski has conducted research outside of his home country and said while the study focused on American data the results were still relevant to Australian society.
“[Our study] suggests that partying at university colleges increases the rate of sexual assault, “ he said.
Dr Siminski said the findings could be used for policy making, such as thinking about how to avoid spikes in partying or to reduce the intensity of such spikes.
“Another involves thinking about how to make the partying that does occur safer,” he said.
Sexual assaults on campus are currently a major policy issue in America, more so than Australia. Dr Siminski believed this was partly due to the US college experience being “more holistic” as a larger fraction of students would leave their hometowns and live on campus.
“That said, we have had related debates in Australia around culture and sexual assaults at colleges, relating especially to military colleges and residential colleges at some of Australia’s elite universities,” said Dr Siminski.