Jake Douglas / Mustang News

The 2017 Annual Security Report showed an increase in reported rape from last year, contributing to an upward trend in reported sex crimes since 2011.

As part of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policies and Campus Crime Act, the report includes statistics on crime compiled by the University Police Department (UPD) between 2014 and 2016.

Last academic year, Safer saw 135 people through their crisis services, according to Safer Coordinator Kara Samaniego. Of those, 113 were survivors of abuse and 77 were survivors of sexual assault. Safer also provides services for friends and supporters of survivors and those affected by sexual violence. Safer offers services covering sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.

Out of those individuals who reported rape to Safer, 11 reported the incident to UPD. Also in 2016, one case of dating violence, two cases of domestic violence and two cases of stalking were reported to UPD.

These reports don’t necessarily mean convictions. UPD is not supposed to investigate the truth of claims when collecting data for the Security Report.

There were no rapes reported to UPD in 2008 and 2009, and two reported in 2010 and 2011, according to past editions of the Security Report. In 2013, six rapes were reported to UPD. The low number of reports before 2011 could be because Safer was not a confidential resource, meaning all reports were automatically passed to UPD. Once Safer became confidential, more people began coming forward and therefore may have felt more comfortable to make reports to UPD.

Switch to Confidentiality

“When I was a student here it was still happening,” Samaniego said. “It wasn’t really clear who exactly to talk to about it if you didn’t want to report it.”

In 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released guidelines on the enforcement of Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that prohibits discrimination based on sex at federally funded education institutions. The “Dear Colleagues Letter” created change on campuses across the nation, making resources such as Safer confidential, creating Title IX coordinator positions and establishing guidelines for how schools should handle sexual assault. “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence,” issued in 2014, gave
additional guidance.

The letter’s power was institutionalized in the California State University (CSU) system by multiple revisions of Executive Orders 1096 and 1097 and nationwide by the 2011 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.

When Safer became confidential, people began coming forward. Safer created counseling sessions, offered resources and educated people on how to prevent sexual assault before it happens. Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) also became involved, working with Safer on an annual campaign to teach students how to identify and dismantle situations of sexual assault.

The “Dear Colleagues Letter” was revoked Sept. 22 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR will replace the documents with new guidance on Title IX. It is unclear what the new guidance will entail, but Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the old guidance denied due process to those accused of sexual misconduct.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White said the OCR’s decision will not affect CSU schools and current Title IX policies will remain in place. ASI President Riley Nilsen also advocated for abiding by the current guidance.

“We need to make sure that students are reporting or feel comfortable reaching out to resources such as Safer,” agricultural science senior Nilsen said.

Additional report statistics

The rest of the Security Report shows little change in other campus crime over the past few years. One notable change was a decrease in motor vehicle thefts. Motor vehicle thefts decreased from eight per year to only one, which UPD Police Chief George Hughes said was because of more patrols and social media posts and presentations to students about motor vehicle security.

Other notable numbers in the report are an apparent rise in liquor law violations. It appears UPD cracked down on drug and liquor violations starting in 2014, with 137 liquor law referrals in 2014, 327 in 2015 and 216 in 2016. The 2014 Annual Security Report shows only three liquor law referrals in 2013 and zero in 2011 and 2012.

According to Hughes, the reason reports spiked between 2013 and 2014 is because UPD educated University Housing staff, including Resident Advisors, on what to report to the department. Hughes said clarification from California Alcohol Beverage Control helped UPD communicate  to University Housing what liquor law violations entailed.

While the Annual Security Report is very comprehensive, it only reflects the number of crimes reported rather than the actual number of crimes committed. However, Hughes said the report is becoming more accurate because of UPD’s efforts to reach out to people reporting crimes to the department, like
University Housing.

“I think it’s the most accurate it could be and the most accurate it’s ever been,” Hughes said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *