Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

In Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer tackles the disturbing and difficult subject of acquaintance rape, focusing on the experiences of five women in Missoula, Montana at the University of Montana during 2010-2012. The women had all filed reports of either rape or attempted rape with university officials and/or local police. The Justice Department began an investigation into reports of over 80 reports of sexual assault and revealed a culture of victim-blaming, discrimination, and disrespect, which Krakauer further reveals throughout his own investigative reporting.

Several of those accused of assault were key players on the University of Montana football team, which resulted in an angry division between those calling for serious investigation and police action, and those standing behind the football players, particularly star quarterback Jordan Johnson. Investigations into the sexual assault reports were severely mishandled and there was an air of disinterest in the alleged victims' stories. Many attempted to discredit the women, and though the athletic director and football coach were removed from their positions, and Johnson temporarily expelled, the football team made semi-threatening statements which resulted in a secret review leading to Johnson's reinstatement into the university and to the football team.

The accounts of sexual violence on college campuses are deeply disturbing and sadly all-too-common. Krakauer peels back the layers on one particular campus, and attempts to make sense of how a cultural shift has arisen in the way sexual violence is understood by both students and administrators at campuses across the country. As with Krakauer's other works, Missoula is well-written and researched, and a difficult but timely and worthwhile read.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town is currently on display on the New Arrivals Shelf on the main floor of the Library. You can also request Missoula through the catalog. Click on the "Availability" link on the catalog record, then click on the yellow "Request" button. Log in using your 14-digit Library barcode number (located on your University ID), and your last name. You will then be able to select your pick-up location. The Library will notify you via email when your book has arrived for pick-up. If you need assistance with this process, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301-687-4395.

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