Last year, the number of reported rapes at the University of Connecticut increased by more than double the number recorded for the previous year.
The Annual 2014 Security and Crime Report stated that 43 rapes were reported during the 2014-2015 school year, in comparison to the 13 reported in 2012-2013, and 18 recorded for 2013-2014.
There was also a significant increase in dating violence and stalking – from eight reports of dating violence and six reports of stalking in 2013-2014 to 26 reports of dating violence and 30 reports of stalking in 2014-2015.
UConn’s administrative officials have painted the increase in reported rapes as indicative of the university’s improved vigilance and receptiveness to reports of this “traditionally under-reported” crime.
This comes after UConn paid a group of students $1.3 million rather than admit the fault of failing to address their sexual assault complaints appropriately.
The university will face consequences from the federal government for inaccurate reporting of these types of complaints in past.
Elizabeth Conklin has been employed at UConn since 2011 and was recently appointed as the University’s Title IX Coordinator, in order to, according to the Title IX website, “ensure compliance with Title IX and other federal and state civil rights laws.”
“There has been increased education and awareness for faculty, staff, and students regarding how to report and the resources available to victim-survivors,” Conklin said. “The higher numbers indicate that those who experience sexual violence are more comfortable coming forward to access the support they need.”
Investigation of Title IX complaints and sexual assault reports are handled by the Office of Diversity and Equity.
UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz released a statement about the annual crime report. She said the increase in reported rapes was a good sign of UConn’s sexual assault services.
“The primary cause [of increased sexual assault reporting] is more collaboration between various parts of the University community to better capture and record all known incidents and allegations, particularly those that come to the attention of campus officials beyond law enforcement,” Reitz writes.
Reitz also cites increased law enforcement training so that officials know they are bound to report all allegations they are cognizant of, and the formation of a special department in the UCPD to “collect and analyze Clery-reportable data,” as reasons for increased crime numbers.
To that point, out of the forty-three reported rapes in 2014, seventeen came straight from the affected individuals. The other twenty-six were relayed to police from campus authorities like Residential Life and Student Affairs.
Other ways in which UConn has attempted to combat sexual assault were outlined by Conklin in an email to The Daily Campus.
“We have centralized the university reporting and investigation process: all reports are made to and investigated by a single office, the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), which is overseen by the Title IX Coordinator,” Conklin said. “Additionally, last year, the Division of Student Affairs reestablished the Dean of Students Office, overseen by Dean of Students Elly Daugherty, and created new positions designed to assist students in navigating the campus and to provide advisement, support, and resources to students, including during the complaint and investigation processes.”
“This also included hiring an Assistant Dean of Students for Victim Support Services, Jenn Longa. The Division of Student Affairs also added staff in both Counseling and Mental Health Services and Wellness and Prevention to provide for the needs of all students, including those impacted by sexual harassment and sexual violence.”
UConn pays the highest administrative costs in the country compared to other public research universities.
The 2014 security and crime report outlines how to report crimes anonymously and confidentially, including a specific webpage on how to address issues of sexual misconduct. It also details the responsibilities of different departments, like the UCPD, counseling and mental health services.
UConn’s Title IX website has an “urgent and medical care” section for students who want to find out how to get looked at for any injuries, as well as STD testing. There is also a “how UConn can help” page with resources for those affected by sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking.
A “confidential advocacy” page links to off-campus resources, such as Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis services (ConnSACS). A small support page for students who are accused of sexual misconduct is also available.
Other types of crime on campus also spiked, according to the most recent crime report. Liquor arrests went from 14 in 2013-2014 to 56 in 2014-2015. Liquor referrals went from 483 in 2013-2014 to 750 in 2014-2015. Drug referrals went from 125 in 2013-2014 to 269 in 2014-2015.
Banu Bayraktar, a 5th-semester geology major and the ex-officio Women’s Center senator for USG, cautioned against university officials patting themselves on the backs for the high number of reported incidents of sexual violence.
“I would like to believe that the number in reported rapes doubled because students are becoming more confident in coming forward after an assault,” Bayraktar said. “I would not necessarily say the administration should pride themselves in the doubled number of reports, because it could also be a result of increased assaults.”
Bayraktar gave other possible reasons for the higher numbers.
“This could be a logistical explanation considering that the number of liquor/drug violations has also spiked from the previous years,” Bayraktar said. “Unfortunately, it’s difficult to explicitly point out the exact cause for this dramatic increase in reports, but it’s important that the university continues to offer options and support to survivors of sexual assault.”
Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.