According to last month’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report (Clery Report), there has been a decrease in reported sexual assaults on campus in 2015.
Sexual offenses are defined in the Clery report as “any act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.” These acts are rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape, according to the report.
In 2015 there were 48 instances of reported sexual assaults, including 38 rapes and 11 cases of fondling, according to the report. This is down from 43 reported rapes in 2014; however, up from the 10 cases of fondling in 2014, according to the report.
The lower numbers could be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing according to Women’s Center director Kathleen Holgerson.
“I think that one of these things that we have to keep in mind about numbers, is these are reported incidents,” she said. “One of the things we know about sexual assault is that it is a very underreported crime. So, when we think about whether the numbers are shifting up or down, I think that there are multiple perspectives that we need to hold at one time.”
Although people may associate lower numbers with less sexual assaults on campus, Holgerson said it could be better to see the numbers go up, because “that means that people feel more comfortable reporting the crime.” The numbers that are included in the Clery report only show the reported number and not the “full scope,”she said.
Holgerson is not the only one who said that the numbers show only part of the picture.
“In the Clery report, overall sexual assault numbers were down slightly from last year, but we’re continuing to see rises in stalking, intimate partner violence and then for the university’s numbers, we are continuing to see increases in all types of disclosures and reports,” Title IX coordinator Elizabeth Conklin said.
A resource that both Holgerson and Conklin mentioned is STRONGER, a support group that is offered by Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS).
“STRONGER is a support and discussion group for individuals who have experienced any type of sexual violence, dating violence, and/or stalking,” according to the CMHS website. “This group is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. It is a supportive, confidential environment to help victim-survivors gain strength and empowerment.”