Rape ads shock University of Hawaii applicants

Rape ads shock University of Hawaii applicants
Published: Jan. 30, 2015 at 8:41 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2015 at 12:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new, eye-opening ad campaign is attacking the University of Hawaii on social media and UH officials are concerned this could have a negative impact on applications.

The ads grab attention, saying "Applying to the University of Hawai'i, Manoa? You should know about its rape problem."

The campaign started Monday and focus on social media sites. The ads are paid for by a social justice movement called UltraViolet.

There are 10 schools being targeted, all are part of a federal investigation into the handling of sexual assaults on college campuses. There are more 80 schools altogether being investigated so how were these 10 chosen?

"We've targeted a number of other schools in previous runs," says Karin Roland of UltraViolet, "We were looking specifically at schools that have application deadlines on or after February 1st in this case."

But UH says there are differences between the schools, some are being investigated as a result of specific allegations of mishandling rape cases, while others are part of an audit, a compliance review. UH officials says they are part of the latter, and therefore believe the ads are unfair.

"This idea that... it's less safe here than other campuses and young women are trying to enroll, it's a little bit troublesome thinking that they might not choose to come here based on something that has nothing to do with the facts," says Jennifer Rose, Gender Equity Expert at UH.

UH says they have been working on ways to prevent sexual assaults and ways to raise awareness about the crime, but say this campaign does not help.

The ads do have links that say, "Learn more now", but when you click on that, you are not taken to a page with facts or numbers about UH crimes, instead you are taken to a page that allows you to sign a petition. UltraViolet is trying to get the Princeton Review, a college ranking guide, to include sexual assault numbers at campuses.

Both sides agree, more needs to be done to protect women, but UH doesn't like the group's tactics.

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