Montclair State University’s annual Jeanne Clery Act statistics report was released on Sept. 30, showing increases in rapes, fondling, aggravated assaults, burglary, stalking and dating violence.
The Clery Act is a long-standing federal law that provides transparency for crimes occurring on college campuses across the United States.
The Act was named after Jeanne Clery, a freshman who was raped and murdered while attending Lehigh University in 1986. After Clery’s death, her parents found out that 38 violent crimes occurred before their daughter’s enrollment and that information was never provided by the institution. In 1990, a law was signed and colleges had to report their annual crime statistics.
According to this year’s statistics, rape went from two in 2020 to seven in 2021, fondling zero to three, aggravated assault one to three, burglary one to five, dating violence six to 10, liquor law arrests four to six and stalking zero to one.
The report also shows a decline in crimes such as domestic violence decreasing from 27 cases in 2019 to eight in 2020 and seven in 2021. Drugs law arrests went from 20 to two.
Capt. Kieran Barrett of the Montclair State police department said the rising numbers are due to the low amount of resident students that were on campus during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“In 2020, more than 90% of classes were being conducted either in an entirely remote or hybrid fashion,” Barrett said. “This significantly reduced the number of people on campus at any given time.”
Barrett also explained the statistics are a reflection of the pre-pandemic numbers.
“In addition, the pandemic reduced the on-campus resident population to about 60% occupancy in the residence halls,” Barrett said. “In 2021, the campus returned to full occupancy in the residence halls. While the numbers tend to fluctuate slightly from year to year, these numbers are just a return to pre-pandemic totals.”
According to Barrett, the university police department is doing everything it can to ensure students’ safety on campus.
“While our campus remains a very safe one, that does not mean, however, that we are content with these figures,” Barrett said. “We will continue to work to ensure all of our community members feel safe and supported. That is what everyone who becomes a part of our community or steps on our campus deserves.”
With the increase in sexual offenses, university police and campus life are working hard to educate people on what to do in these situations and encouraging victims to come forward.
“Some of the resources we provide include comprehensive on-campus care for victims of sexual violence, Counseling and Psychological Services, advocates for victims of crime both on campus and at off-campus court locations,” Barrett said. “And as will remain the case, we will continuously assess our community and its needs and implement new and beneficial ways to educate and inform its members.”