On Sept. 30 the university’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report was released to students, faculty and staff. The report, which is sent out each year via email, is a requirement of the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which regulates crime reporting for higher education institutions.
Inside the 49-page report, university crime and fire statistics for 2011-13 are listed along with a variety of safety information and resources for students.
Last year, there were eight sex offenses on Main Campus, all in residence halls. Two more took place off campus, and one was on public property. In 2012, there was one sex offense listed: a forcible rape which took place in a residence hall.
In the past two years included in the report, there were no hate crimes reported, but two hate crimes based on sexual orientation were reported in 2013.
There was also a decline in burglaries from 2012, when there were 27. There were seven burglaries in 2013.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said this year’s report contained new sections regarding policies geared toward awareness for and prevention of sexual violence as a result of new regulations laid out in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. There are also added statistics related to stalking, domestic violence and dating violence.
VAWA was signed into law by President Obama on March 7, 2013 and under its Campus Sexual Violence Act provision imposes new regulations for universities and colleges regarding their policies on sexual violence.
“So, there is a whole section in there about preventing sexual assault and domestic violence, dating violence, our policy statement, the resources that are out there as well as more importantly how to report it – whether you want to do formal or informal reporting,” Leone said. “So we have it broken down pretty nicely in there.”
VAWA also added additional hate crime categories to the fire and safety report including gender identity and national origin.
Senior psychology major Stacy Finnegan expressed a belief that these new additions brought on by VAWA will open up a more truthful conversation about sexual violence as well as relationship violence.
“I would not put my faith in the school based on ways I’ve seen situations [involving sexual assault] handled,” Finnegan said. “All that being said, I do believe that them making sure this information is available to everyone is a good step.”
Morgan Baker, a senior advertising major, also acknowledged the need for the VAWA requirements.
“I guess it’s not always easy to know what to do when [a sexual assault] happens,” she said.
Both Baker and Finnegan said they have never read the fire and safety report and were previously unaware of its existence.
“I saw that I got it,” Baker said. “But, then I deleted the email and didn’t read it.”
“It seemed like it would only say that the buildings were up to fire code. I had no idea it include crime information,” said Finnegan, who added she is now more inclined to read the report after hearing of the VAWA additions.
Anticipating the needs of the students, Leone explained CSS is consistently working to break down the information found in the report into formats that are easier for the campus community to digest, like brochures or pamphlets.
“I think the spirit of the law is good and you want to get the information out to everyone,” Leone said. “But I think what we try to do is take some of the salient points, so to speak.”
The Fire and Safety Report can be found on the university’s CSS website.
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Brandt contributed reporting.