An analysis of the Academy’s SA/SH statistics

Midshipmen should never have been removed from commercial ships and MARAD owes the maritime industry an apology.

This weekend, I finally had an opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of the two SA/SH studies regarding the Academy. I am reporting what I consider to be the critical results here. I have now added a post describing how I culled this information from the 2011-12 and 2013-14 SA/SH studies. I have also posted a separate editorial about the statistics.

There are two key take-aways from the statistics:

1.  The data from the two surveys shows a significant reduction in “sea year” sexual assault from 2011-12 to 2013-14. This is directly contrary to what MARAD is telling the world:

2.  Both surveys show that the vast majority of all sexual assaults on female midshipmen are committed by fellow midshipmen:

The above stunning statistic is absolutely unacceptable. But, it is a midshipman problem (which makes it a problem that must be addressed at the Academy through good leadership); it is not a sea year problem (which means that it is not an industry problem). Midshipmen are apparently taking a culture that exists at the Academy to sea with them.

Given that the surveys identify midshipmen as the principal source of the problem, cancelling sea year (and now assigning midshipmen to non-commercial vessels) does not address the problem. Midshipmen are still paired or grouped with other midshipmen when assigned to state school training ships, Military Sealift Command ships, or U.S. Navy ships. The problem has just been shifted to different platforms. MARAD is not protecting midshipmen from the problem.

MARAD owes the entire industry a huge apology.



  1. [This author is a parent. I have modified this comment to make him/her anonymous and reworded one portion that might have helped identify him/her. Andy]

    This is what many of us have known since our reading of these surveys following the accreditation warning. Helis has been confronted with these facts, but he persists in his dialogue to reverse the facts and likes to say ” we have had people that understand these studies tell us this is so”. If he has ever, personally, read the surveys then he is in violation of the Honor code every time he speaks to an audience. Again, thank you for your time and efforts to keep the vessel upright.

  2. My understanding is, MARAD-DOT is saying the problem is with the Mids (culture), therefore they can’t go to sea. But the federal ships are OK (because they are more controlled, maybe?) and commercial ships are NOT good (because MARAD-DOT has less control?). It doesn’t make much sense though one way or another.

    What I am troubled with is that the survey report which MARAD-DOT used to justify Stand Down is 2 years old. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) The subjected Midshipmen are in class years 2014-17. The Midshipmen who are most affected by Stand Down are 2018 and 2019. They are simply the victims of this bureaucratic fight. They are used for whatever the intention of whoever planned this nonsense. The Academy has been seeing less incidents of SASH (right?)–Doesn’t that mean the prevention training is “partialy/slowly” working? The problem exists just as in any part of our society so that the Academy must continue to work on it. But there is no way to justify Stand Down.

    In Midshipman Doe’s comment; “…ridden with a lack of trust and feelings of contempt. The general consensus among the affected midshipmen is a feeling of despondence that there is little we can do, and no one to stand up for us.”

    In an ideal world, the Superintendent would have stood up for them. As the head of the regiment, he knows the Midshipmen better than anybody. I wish he trusted his Midshipmen and protected them from this unreasonable Stand Down. Only HE could have done that.

  3. Since the majority of the SASH is between midshipmen, don’t pair a male with a female for sea year, and you will considerably cut down on SASH incidents at sea.

    • Intuitively, that seems correct. But, I’m not sure it is; or that KP should make decisions based upon assumptions. I know that at least one of my female classmates chose a male midshipmen as her sea year partner and had no issues. (And chose to do it for both sea year splits, too.) She’s opposes the idea. I think it is worth exploring, but we need much more data.

      We have to look further, too. One thing the data doesn’t tell us is whether the problem is one or two male midshipmen who are serial predators or whether it is a more widespread problem. (That’s not a criticism of the SAGR surveys. Those surveys don’t ask the respondent to give the specific identity of the assailant and realistically, they couldn’t.) Also, have there been any changes in the admissions demographics that might change the composition of the regiment and explain an increase in SA/SH? We do know (from the SAGR reports) that alcohol consumption is involved in a significant number of the sexual assaults. So we also need to examine that more closely. Nor do we have a breakdown by severity of the sexual assaults. Sexual assault is defined broadly (appropriately so) and ranges from an improper touching to rape. All of it is wrong; but, I’m sure that most of us would react differently to a report that indicated that the majority of the midshipmen-on-midshipmen sexual assaults were inappropriate gropings after consuming too much alcohol rather than premeditated rapes. And we would address the first problem in a much different manner than we would the latter.

      A major part of the problem is that it seems that for the last four years, Academy Leadership has not analyzed the data or figured out the right follow up questions to ask; and it certainly hasn’t taken the right steps to address the problem. And that’s pretty much why the Academy ended up on MSCHE accreditation warning status. Maybe if leadership had experience in the maritime industry (or, dare I say it, with USMMA itself?), it would have had a better idea as to what questions to ask and what steps to take.

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