Rapes on campus increased for the third year in a row, according to the Ohio State’s annual crime report released Tuesday.
The number of reported rapes on campus increased from 72 in 2017 to 93 in 2018, an increase of nearly 30 percent. There were 56 in 2016, and according to a university press release, university officials attribute the increase in reports to initiatives including “an ongoing focus on educating faculty, staff and students on reporting.” Overall, crime reports on and near the Columbus campus increased in 2018.
University President Michael V. Drake said Ohio State values the reports of sexual assault in order to better act on the crimes.
“We know that the vast majority of these sexual reports are not reported, so we are really working to learn more about them, and what we know is that the more we hear, the more we learn, the better we’re able to respond, the better we’re able to educate people, the better we all can work together to make this the safest campus in the country,” Drake said.
The 2019 Annual Security Report, which reflects 2018 statistics, is mandated by law to publish an annual security report by Oct. 1 in order for higher-education institutions to receive federal funding.
Ohio State announced its mandatory online sexual assault training in September, and starting this year, first-year and transfer students must complete the training to register for spring 2020 classes, according to a universitywide email sent Sept. 12.
University spokesperson Dan Hedman said crime is never the victim’s fault and advises people to report what they see.
“The power of 100,000 people on our campus being aware of their surroundings and reporting suspicious behavior is a great thing,” Hedman said.
Rape, fondling and domestic violence
Reports of rape are divided between residence halls and areas of campus not including residence halls. In 2018, 13 campus crime rapes were reported and 80 occurred in residence facilities.
According to the 2017 Campus Climate survey, 77 percent of students were somewhat or very knowledgeable about where to make a report of sexual assault or misconduct at Ohio State in 2017, compared with 48 percent in 2015.
On-campus domestic violence saw a rise from 21 incidents in 2017 to 28 in 2018, an increase of 33 percent.
Instances of fondling, which is categorized as any inappropriate touching that police are alerted to, also went up from 30 in 2017 to 48 in 2018, an increase of 40 percent. Dating violence fell from 44 incidents in 2017 to 35 incidents in 2018.
According to the crime report, instances of abuse by former university physician Richard Strauss — which were counted separately — included 992 instances of fondling and 30 instances of rape. Though these instances occurred years ago, they were included in this year’s crime report because the Clery Act mandates that the report counts crimes in the year they were reported, not the year they occurred.
Burglary reports nearly doubled, increasing from 49 in 2017 to 95 in 2018. According to the press release, the most significant uptick took place in academic, recreational and medical center facilities, while residence halls saw a modest increase.
Hedman said Public Safety Notices are useful in apprehending suspects in relation to burglaries.
“The university issued three Public Safety Notices in 2018 (March, August and December) after recognizing separate rashes of burglary. Police made three arrests related to these crimes,” Hedman said in an email.
Hate crimes fell for the second year in a row from 10 reportable incidents in 2017 to three in 2018, a steep decrease from 32 instances of hate crime in 2016.
Two of the crimes were characterized by sexual orientation and one was characterized by gender.
Alcohol law violations
Arrests for alcohol law violations, which include underage purchase and drinking, halved from 130 in 2017 to 63 in 2018, while violations leading to disciplinary referrals — cases that get turned over to student conduct — decreased from 1,844 to 1,346.
“Alcohol and other drugs affect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and campus visitors, and are very costly in relationship to campus crime and interference with the learning environment,” the report states.
Hedman said safety is Ohio State’s top priority, and students can use the Lyft Ride Smart program at Ohio State and the Rave Guardian app to stay safe around campus.