The University of Connecticut released two annual safety reports last week that detail a wide array of safety statistics for 2021 including criminal activity and sexual violence incidents.
The first report was the Clery Annual Security and Fire Safety Report which details the prevalence of certain crimes on and around campus. The second report was a state-mandated annual overview of the school’s policies regarding sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence according to an email released by the university last week.
The data from the Clery Annual Security and Fire Safety Report is divided by campus, and further divided by geographic location: on-campus property, on-campus student housing facilities (a subset of on-campus property), non-campus property and public property.
The Storrs campus had several notable changes from 2021 compared to 2019. Several regional campuses also saw minor changes from 2021 compared to 2019.
For the Storrs campus on-campus property, arrests for drug abuse violations fell from 46 in 2019 to one in 2022. Disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations fell from 129 in 2019 to 48 in 2021. Burglary incidents fell from 18 in 2019 to five in 2021. Additionally, disciplinary referrals in regards to liquor law violations rose from 332 in 2019 to 395 in 2021.
On the Storrs campus, rapes also rose from nine in 2019 to 16 in 2021, a 78% increase. However, historically speaking these numbers are lower than previous years. While not outlined in the report released this year, rape incidents in 2014 were 43, 2015 were 38, 2016 were 24, 2017 were 16 and 2018 were 23.
UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz responded to 2019’s unusually low numbers when looking at the past several years of reported rape incidents.
“It appears the 2019 figures were unusually low, and that the 2021 figures are closer to those we have historically seen in previous years,” Reitz said. “That can be viewed from many perspectives. Perhaps the number did decrease in 2019, which could indicate success in the university’s prevention and awareness efforts, or could reflect fewer people who chose to report their experience to the UConn Police Department that year.”
Reitz said that if it was due to a decrease in reporting, that would be of concern to the university.
“However, a decrease in reporting would be of concern to the university because we want to ensure an accurate count of such incidents and, more importantly, to ensure that survivors of sexual assault are aware of the resources available to them and know where to find support and services,” Reitz responded.
In the immediate three year time-frame however, rapes did increase from nine in 2019 to 16 in 2021. 2020 had abnormal numbers across the board due to COVID-19 and a decreased student population on campus. UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said that the 2021 rape numbers can be interpreted in a couple ways.
“The figures reported in 2021 are higher than those in 2019, but lower than those in the previous years. It’s our fervent hope that this reflects a growing awareness of the services and resources, and an increased comfort and trust in the university’s support for the students involved,” Reitz wrote. “When the 2022 figures are compiled and released next year, that will help provide perspective on where the trends might be going: whether the numbers of such incidents have decreased compared to the numbers in the mid-2010s, or whether the past few years have been a dip (and if so, why).”
When asked about what the university is doing to combat the 2021 increase in rapes compared to 2019, Reitz cited the recent university initiatives to decrease sexual violence on campus.
“We take very seriously the fact that every number represents a student who has been impacted by sexual violence, along with the friends and family who support them. The University will be undertaking several initiatives under the new report by the President’s Task Force for Combatting Sexual Violence and Supporting Our Students, and will always fight to eradicate these crimes on our campuses and support the survivors,” Reitz wrote.