Lauren Rabaino

The University Police Department released its 2006 Campus Crime Statistics report last week, which noted among other statistics a slight increase in sexual offenses reported and significant decreases in on-campus liquor violation arrests.

The 2006 campus crime report lists four total rapes on the main campus and in the on-campus residence community, compared to two in 2005 and zero in 2004.

In those same locations last year, there were a total of two reports of sexual assault with an object, and two of sexual battery.

University Police Department Commander Lori Hashim is quick to realize that sexual offenses such as rape and assault are often under-reported by fearful victims.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot more than what’s reported,” she admitted. But she wants victims to realize that “people will continue to do a crime if they can get away with it.”

Hashim further noted that she’s not really sure if these increases are a trend to be concerned about, or simply mean better reporting by rape and assault victims.

The Sexual Assault Free Environment Resource (SAFER) program at Cal Poly is the university’s assault resource and prevention program.

Marianna Lightman, Coordinator of SAFER and a certified rape crisis counselor, said she also believes that the rise in sexual assault statistics may be a result of more forthcoming victims.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily because there are more incidents,” she said.

“I think a lot of it has to do with people feeling more comfortable with coming out and seeking help. SAFER has tried to be more visible on campus to encourage that.”

Lightman said the slight rise in reported sexual assaults doesn’t particularly surprise her.

“We know it’s happening. We know the statistics also say that one in four college women are going to be sexually assaulted. Forty percent of survivors are too frightened to come out and report what’s happened to them.”

Lightman said that the first 30 days of college are when sexual assaults are most likely to occur, and that SAFER made a huge effort this year to raise awareness during Week of Welcome and with presentations to incoming freshmen.

In previous years, SAFER has partnered with other rape-prevention organizations to teach women’s self-defense classes in the residence halls, and to coordinate with Greek and athletic organizations to spread the message.

The University Police Department also hosts various other programs on campus to target specific crimes such as rape and sexual assault primarily through preventative education.

Incoming residence hall students are required to attend a presentation on crime and rape prevention, and various general programs are held throughout the year dealing with the topic.

The police department has even designated officer Frank Herrera to be involved with the off-campus Greek community, where Hashim says Herrera is welcomed and invited by fraternities and sororities to speak about sexual assault issues.

Also detailed on the Campus Crime Statistics report, 10 total arrests were made last year for liquor law violations on campus, in the residence halls, on public property and on non-campus property, compared to 27 total over the previous year.

Other statistics, including burglary, robbery and arson, were minimal and in comparison with previous years.

Hashim said Cal Poly is a particularly low-crime campus in comparison with the rest of the California State University system.

The police department is required by law to keep annual crime statistics in order to receive federal funding. The full report is available on their Web site at www.police.calpoly.edu.

Hashim said the police department works to minimize crime on campus and in the related communities through what they call Community Oriented Policing (COP).

This calls for strong involvement in crime reporting and prevention by students, faculty and university staff.

“One of the things we try to do is get people to know us,” she said.

“Officers are directed to get out of their cars, to shake hands with people and talk to them. We want people to feel comfortable with reporting crime to us,” she said.

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