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Case: Doe Vs. Mercer University

Rape is the most common violent crime that occurs on college campuses. One in four women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape while in college. Ninety percent of the rapes are acquaintance rapes. Seventy-five percent of the rapes involve alcohol or drugs. Most rapes occur in the first few weeks of the freshman year.

Acquaintance rape is the most preventable crime. Prevention includes taking steps to curtail unsupervised parties, underage drinking and providing education to students. A university that responds to complaints of sexual assault on its campus aggressively greatly lessens the instances of assault on its campus. Conversely, a university that hides the instances of rape on its campus contributes to the perception that the behavior is acceptable and increases the chances a student will be raped.

Mercer University is a small Baptist private school in Macon, Georgia. Mercer promises its students a safe campus and requires that they live on campus as freshman students. Mercer states that it is a dry campus. Despite their assurances, MercerUniversity has had multiple allegations of rape on its campus by its students. These rapes have not been reported on Mercer’s annual campus security report. No student has ever been prosecuted for complaints of sexual assault.

Mercer states in its school rules that a sorority cannot have a party without seeking the school’s permission. In addition, to have a party an organization must follow very strict guidelines, including having party monitors, a guest list, allowing only current Mercer students and not providing alcohol. The organizational rules were adopted from FIPG, a fraternity insurance purchasing group that promulgated the guidelines to lessen the risk of sexual assault in the Greek system. Although Mercer has a police force with full law enforcement powers to enforce these rules, Mercer does not enforce them.

In October 2000, Jane Doe attended an unauthorized sorority party on Mercer’s campus. At that party, Sigma Gamma Rho provided alcohol to the students and other party-goers. A party goer, Mauricio Kalukango – not a Mercer student – attended the party and became severely intoxicated.  Kalukango raped Jane Doe, stealing her virginity and giving her a sexually transmitted disease.  This disease turned cancerous and required Jane to have an operation. She may not be able to have children. Doe sunk into a deep depression and eventually withdrew from MercerUniversity.

Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 13, 2003
Premises Liability Seeks Business/Property Owners

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