WASHINGTON – Ninety-one percent of college campuses reported no rapes on campus in 2014, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education by the American Association of University Women.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to disclose campus safety information. It was updated in 2013, and data from the update were released in the fall. The AAUW’s analysis found the 91 percent of campuses reporting zero incidents of rape did not match the pattern of data collected from the past 20 years.
“While even one incident of sexual violence is too many, we know that it remains prevalent on college campuses,” Hedgepeth said. “We should expect schools to have reported incidents to disclose annually. Zeros are the red flag.
In addition to rape, under the new Clery act, campuses must also report dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. The AAUW did a separate analysis of that data.
“These additions as we mentioned are new for 2014,” Hedgepeth said. “They are in the database now for the first time.”
The AAUW found that only about 10 percent of college campuses disclosed incidents in these new categories. Hedgepeth said this low number does not match the wealth of information on how many students are affected each year.
“When we ask students about their experiences, as many as one in four or one in five women are experiencing sexual assault,” she said. Sexual assault is defined as any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without consent.
A report released by the White House Task Force in 2014, disclosed that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college.
“It’s clear students experience this violence,” Hedgepeth said. “This is happening at schools every single day. And now for the first time we have a set of information about the scope of the problem on every single campus.”
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Title IX and the Clery Act require schools to report sexual violence and make the reporting process easier for students. They also provide the tools to help colleges improve the climate on campus.
“It’s important to know that these requirements are not new,” Maatz said. “The issue isn’t new, and neither are the requirements that schools address them.”
Linda Smith, Title IX coordinator at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said she thinks the data showing so few reports of rape on campuses could have something to do with the confusing terminology in the laws.
“I am looking at sexual assault incidents. Sexual harassment, stalking, sexual violence,” she said, explaining her role in examining the Clery Act data.
The 2014 Clery Act data from SIU show seven reports of criminal sexual assaults, one report of attempted criminal sexual assault, two reports of criminal sexual abuse, 13 reports of domestic battery, two reports of aggravated domestic battery and zero reports of aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated sexual abuse and stalking. The campus enrolled about 18,000 students in the fall 2014.
“With all of these moving parts, they work collaboratively to protect the students on campus,” Smith said of the two laws.
Maatz said college campuses need to work to close the gap between actual incidents and reported incidents. She said online services and hot lines could help make it easier for students to report sexual violence.
Maatz said so-called climate surveys could be the best way to collect data. These anonymous surveys ask students their experiences with crime on campus. Some campuses have begun to use the surveys.
“These climate and victimization surveys can help schools better understand the dynamics behind reported and unreported incidents of sexual violence,” Maatz said.
The Clery Act and Title IX both hold schools accountable to make sure the climate of the campus does not interfere with a student’s right to an education.
“I sometimes think that schools are hesitant to do these climate surveys because they are viewing campus sexual assault as a public relations issue more so than a safety issue, and quite frankly, as a civil rights issue,” Maatz said.
Smith said SIU has a required online consent and respect training for new students.
“It lets us know our weaknesses and what we need to work on,” she said.
SIU officials are also working to incorporate climate surveys this spring.
According to the AAUW analysis, men are also victims of sexual violence on campus. Although men are less likely to experience sexual violence than women, the analysis emphasizes the importance of gender neutrality in Title IX.
Maatz said false accusations in sexual assault cases are no more common than any other reported crime.
Reach reporter Tia Rinehart at [email protected] or 202-408-1490. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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