Rape steps?

Have you ever found yourself walking down some steps and thinking, “Man, these steps sure are awkwardly spaced and uncomfortable”?

If so, you’re probably a rapist or something.

rape_stepsAt least that’s the story at Tufts University, where a recent student newspaper article alluded to a set of “rape steps” placed down a gently sloping hill on campus. Apparently the admissions officers at Tufts tell prospective students that the steps were designed specifically to help female students escape male attackers.

No, really:

Admissions officers say that the steps were designed for women, and the theory goes that a woman should be able to climb the steps faster than a male attacker. Even as a female, I don’t understand how these awkwardly long yet short steps are supposed to rescue me from impending doom. I guess that feminine stride ain’t no stride-o-mine.

There is obviously a strong possibility that the steps in question are merely awkward, and that the “rape steps” legend simply sprung up around them. In my student days at the Gamaliel Painter Academy of Alchemy and Sledding, there were several fanciful explanations for otherwise uninteresting landscape quirks. The music center was built backwards! The library is sinking into the earth on account of the weight of the books! You’ve been placed on academic probation!

OK that last one was true. But in my defense, the steps down to the library are really awkward.

Engineering psychology and the Rape Steps [Tufts Daily]

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Rape steps?

  1. You sure have a fondness for societies and colleges with unnecessarily long names. You couldn’t just be a member of the Elks club, could you?

  2. Perry Ellis

    The library at my alma mater, Union College, really was sinking into the ground under the weight of all those books. They had to postpone a big renovation so they could shore up the foundations, if memory serves.

  3. Perry Ellis

    Well I should know, I was an English major. I did my dissertation on this.

    And unlike Middlebury, which razed its library to put a hookah bar in its place.

  4. Don’t let Pax fool you, it’s not like he’s some kind of genius. He majored in American studies. American studies!

  5. Sounds like the Tufts admission office may need to get creative and invent more interesting reasons behind the strange stairs, such as “designed to provide maximum space for spontaneous yet synchronized dancing to Motown songs.” Then the the students will start rolling in (or at least awkwardly climbing stairs).

  6. BU has “rape stairs”, as well. Only they’re so called because a disproportionate number of rapes occurred on them, given their location in an unlit area away from the main parts of campus that see a lot of foot traffic.

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