In Ohio State’s release of its annual crime and safety report, several categories saw an increase in incidents reported, most notably rape, fondling and stalking on campus, though university officials attribute it to increased reporting by students and sophomores now being required to live on campus.
The results come from the federally mandated 2016 Annual Campus Security Report, published by the Department of Public Safety. The Clery Act requires all two and four-year colleges to make the information available to the public.
Reported rape more than doubled in the 2016 report for a number of reasons, according to Kellie Brennan, the director of compliance and the Title IX and Clery Act coordinator, and Dan Hedman, spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning.
Sixty-one total rapes were reported for the 2016 calendar year — 51 in residence halls and 10 on campus. In 2015, 25 rapes were reported — 21 in residence halls and four on campus.
The increase in crime is due to numerous changes in Clery protocol and more students living on campus, Hedman said. The number of students living on campus during the 2016-17 academic year increased by 30 percent from the 2015-16 total.
“With the general uptick in crime, eight new residence halls have opened on North Campus,” Hedman said. “Four or five opened last fall. So logically more students on campus, more officers on campus, more reports are likely to come in.”
The 2016-17 academic year was the first in which sophomores were required to live on campus; 15,152 students lived on campus (including graduate and family-living residences) that year, according to university data. During the 2015-16 academic year, 11,634 students lived on campus.
Thus, the 30 percent increase in students living on campus occurred for half of the year in which 2016 Clery data was gathered: Autumn 2016.
Additionally, for 2016, the location standards changed for Clery reporting. Previously, rapes reported without the location were not included in the report, but are now included.
Twenty-four of the 61 total rapes reported did not include a location.
The data recorded is not limited to only Ohio State students, Brennan said. It records any incident that happens on campus, or in university owned or regulated areas where students could reside. For example, if a student were to experience a crime while studying abroad, data would be collected on where the student was staying and the crime would get included in the report.
“Clery is 100 percent tied to where something happens,” Brennan said. “It doesn’t matter who it happens to, so the stats that you see may reflect things that happened to students, they may reflect things that happened to people who just happened to be on any of our property.”
If a crime were to occur at an off-campus home, however, it would not be included in the report, Brennan said.
She said a more accurate report of sexual assault on campus is the campus climate survey, a self-reported questionnaire sent to each Ohio State student.
One in five undergraduate female respondents to the 2017 survey reported being victim to nonconsensual sexual intercourse or touching by force, threats of physical force or incapacitation.
“Any time that you are looking for crime data, this is just across the globe, the best data you’re going to get are from anonymous surveys because crime happens to people that they don’t report all of the time,” Brennan said. “So when we are looking at actual rates of incidents, the climate survey is the best indicator we have of how often this may be happening.”
Brennan said she also attributes the increase in total reports to a more educated university population, as well as a decrease in the negative stigma that surrounds reporting rape.
“I would say one of the biggest things to point out is that our number increased,” Brennan said. “What that means is that the number of people who came forward to the university to report that they were a victim of this crime has increased. And we see that as a very good thing.”
Despite the increase in services and reports this year compared to previous years, many students are still hesitant to report sexual assault crimes, Brennan said.
According to the campus climate survey, 82 percent of intimate partner violence respondents did not report the violence to a university program; 57.8 percent of those did not contact a program because they did not think the violence was serious enough to report.
Fondling reports increased from 13 total in the 2015 Clery report to 22 in 2016. Reports of domestic violence increased as well from four total in the 2015 report to 10 in 2016.
The increase in reporting could show more people are comfortable coming forward about incidents, Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone said.
“It is good that the numbers are higher because of the survey,” he said. “We know that people have experienced this and by them reporting it they can get help.”
Alcohol and drug violations
Hedman credited more alcohol violations to more students on campus, as well, though the number of alcohol-violation arrests decreased from 119 in 2015 to 103 in 2016.
Alcohol-violation disciplinary referrals increased from 1,614 in 2015 to 1,931 in 2016.
“A disciplinary referral is something that it would be sent through a conduct process,” Brennan said. “If someone is arrested for an alcohol violation, it only counts as an arrest not a disciplinary referral.”
The number of drug arrests decreased from 46 in 2015 to 31 — 27 in non-residence facilities — in 2016; drug disciplinary referrals increased from 235 in 2015 to 259 — 214 in residence facilities — in 2016.
Because of the Nov. 28 attack on campus, hate crimes saw a sharp increase. Of the 32 reported hate crimes, 14 of them were attributed to the attack. All 14 of those incidents count both as aggravated assaults and hate crimes, Chief Stone said.
A hate crime is when somebody is intentionally selected due to race, gender, religion, ethnicity or disability, according to the Clery report.
In 2014 and 2015, only four hate crimes were reported. Additionally, 2016 saw five total assaults by gender categorized as hate crimes, where each of the previous years saw only one.
The Ohio State Division of Police added four new police officers in 2016 and plans to hire three more in the near future, Stone said.
The overall increase in many of Clery crimes reported is not entirely worrisome to university officials, particularly when it comes to the increase in reported rapes. They stressed it could mean more students are willing to come forward and report a crime against them, and have the knowledge on how to do so.
“We’re seeing Clery reports go up, which means I think that we’re finding a way to tell students that we have resources that can help,” Brennan said. “That there’s a little bit more trust in the system, so that kind of goes back to a lot of the climate survey data about perceptions.”