Campus sexual assault reports up in 2013


Hanna Bolanos

Source: NU Annual Security & Fire Safety Report

Jeanne Kuang, Campus Editor

Reports of rape and sexual assault at Northwestern rose to eight last year, according to the University’s annual safety statistics.

The number, which NU made public in its 2014 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, is higher than previous years. In 2012, three incidents of forcible sex offenses were reported at NU, the same number as the year before.

The report was released by the University last month as part of its obligations under the Clery Act, a 1990 law that requires colleges and universities receiving federal financial aid to publicly release crime data and information about campus security measures. The report details crimes reported on campus, in University-affiliated buildings away from campus and on public property surrounding campus.

NU received 16 reports of stalking in 2013, half of which occurred in campus residences, three reports of domestic violence and no reports of dating violence. The University began reporting these crimes for the first time last year under the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

University Police Deputy Chief Dan McAleer acknowledged that sexual assault is underreported. From June 2013 to May 2014, 78 students received services at the Center for Awareness, Response and Education, NU’s advocacy office for sexual assault survivors. Since CARE was established in September 2011, the office saw 137 students total, according to the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence.

McAleer said most students’ reports of sexual assault are not relayed to UP directly. Instead, they come from Campus Security Authorities, certain University employees who are mandated by the Clery Act to report crimes reported to them. CSAs include residence hall officials, coaches, student group advisers and other staff members who have “a day-to-day interaction with students,” McAleer said.

“The blessing is we get a better idea of what the sexual violence picture is on campus,” he said. “The other side of the coin is if we have someone that’s a sexual predator out there, we may not be getting enough information.”

Most sexual assault incidents are reported without specific enough information for UP to investigate the crimes, and survivors often prefer to remain anonymous, McAleer said.

Stalking reports also often come from CSAs, McAleer said, adding that offices that offer counseling, such as CARE and the Women’s Center, do not report incidents to UP.

“I don’t know whether (stalking is) underreported based on the number we have for 2013,” he said. “My concern is always here’s a situation in which … the police can be really helpful stepping in.”

Overall crime was down from 2011 to 2013, with burglaries decreasing from 46 to 16.

In 2013, there were five reports of robbery, two reports of aggravated assault and four reports of vehicle theft.

According to a June report from the U.S. Department of Education, reported crimes at colleges across the U.S. have dropped overall between 2001 and 2011, except sexual assault, which rose slightly.

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