Students, police respond to increased reports of rape in Annual Security Report

Maddie Burakoff, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern’s Annual Security Report for 2017, sent out Friday, revealed an increase in the number of reported rapes for both the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

In 2016, there were 13 reports of rape for the Evanston campus and 15 reports of rape for the Chicago campus — the highest those numbers have been in three years. For 2014 and 2015 combined, there were 11 reports of rape for Evanston and two for Chicago.

“I would hope that these trends are all due to a safer culture of reporting, and not necessarily due to increased violence against college students,” said Shan Chen Pu, president of Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.

Any reported case of rape is included in the annual statistics, even if it is not followed up with a police investigation, said Gloria Graham, University Police deputy chief.

The total number of reported rapes also includes reports of attempted rape, Graham told The Daily in an email.

“Even if we receive a completely anonymous report that something happened, and we have no names, nothing to verify whether or not it happened … it’s put into our statistics,” Graham said.

For the 2016 statistics, 12 of the 13 Evanston cases were reported to UP, and all 13 were reported to the Title IX office, Graham said in the email.

Though the infrastructure of the reporting process has not changed much, students are becoming more aware of resources and reporting processes, said Colin Clayton, communications chair for Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators.

MARS has been working closely with other groups like SHAPE and the Center for Awareness, Response and Education to promote a “cohesive message” of supporting survivors and preventing sexual violence, Pu said.

“I have definitely seen conversations — about sex, about sexual health, about sex positivity and also about sexual violence and how that impacts our campus — I’ve seen those conversations increase throughout my years here at Northwestern,” the Weinberg senior said.

Some of the Chicago campus data may have been affected by the wider “footprint” of area surveyed, Graham said. Based on new requirements from the U.S. Department of Education, the Chicago campus’ survey area was expanded to include University-affiliated spaces nearby — including hospitals and medical centers — as well as adjacent public property, Graham said.

Eight of the 15 reports from the Chicago campus came from hospitals or medical facilities in the area, which were not included in the statistics for prior years, Graham said in the email.

Nationally, the stigma around reporting rapes has decreased somewhat in recent years, Clayton said.

NU has useful resources in place but still is “getting there” in terms of supporting survivors, the Weinberg senior added.

“The reporting process doesn’t always end in favorable outcomes for survivors for a variety of bureaucratic reasons,” Clayton said. “In an ideal world, survivors would always be able to get justice.”

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Twitter: @madsburk