Nine rapes were reported in this year’s Jeanne Clery Act crime report for 2017. The number has increased by two since the years 2016 and 2015. In 2014, four rapes were reported.
Sexual assault has been a hot topic in the media over the past year, from Harvey Wienstein to #MeToo and to the recent Brett Kavanaugh case.
“Sexual assaults reported tend to fluctuate from year to year,” said University Police Department Capt. Kieran Barrett. “As we can surely bet, the number of actual assaults is higher.”
Barrett said that the university has a sexual assault response team, including numerous campus departments to make the reporting process for those seeking help as comfortable as possible.
“Many times students choose not to file charges, which is their right,” Barrett said. “However, many wish to avail themselves of other services at the university.”
Undeclared sophomore Rafael Scafuro believes media coverage has encouraged women to speak out about their sexual assaults because victims are more comfortable sharing their stories as others share their experiences.
“I don’t want to say I’m happy that the number of reports increased, but I’m happy that people are starting to become more comfortable actually coming out and talking about it,” Scafuro said. “It’s difficult for people to come out and tell someone about this tragic thing that just happened.”
Freshman fashion studies major Madison Perez pointed out that we do not know if more rapes are occurring or if more are reporting an old assault.
“People are more confident in coming out, not because people listen more but because people who have gone through [sexual assault] are advocating and are more confident in reporting it,” Perez said.
The Clery Act requires higher education institutes to release crime statistics reported to police each year. These crime categories include sexual assault, liquor and drug laws, theft, and more.
The repeatedly highest crime statistics lie in drug law arrests, which decrease each year. The total has jumped from 78 reports in 2015 to 43 reports in 2017.
Other categories like arson or racially biased theft and larceny consistently have zero reports.