Drop in College’s reported on-campus sex offenses

Campus Police made accessible the 2006 crime statistics last week in accordance with the Clery Act of 1990, highlighting a drastic change in reported forcible sex offenses in the last few years.

In 2004 the College reported 16 on-campus sex offenses and 11 in 2005. Last year, however, only one sex offense was reported.

Other notable statistics released in the report include alcohol and drug violations at the College.

Liquor law violations increased from 676 in 2004 to 707 in 2005. Last year, they increased again to 772.

In contrast to the increase in liquor law violations, drug violations decreased from 59 in 2004 to 38 in 2005 and 26 last year.

Although the drop in sex offenses seems positive, College officials admit that the statistic is not representative of the actual number of sex offenses happening on campus.

“Our numbers are down dramatically this year, but that’s only a positive development if the actual number of sexual assaults is down dramatically,” Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said. “We want our number reported to be as close to the number actually occurring as possible.”

Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, coordinator of the office of Anti-Violence Initiatives, agreed.

“It happens outside in society so we know it happens here,” she said. Deitch-Stackhouse said the Sexual Assault Task Force has been assessing some of its programs and trying to hypothesize the reasons why the statistic dropped.

She said the task force is working on increasing peer education about these issues on campus. Some of the things they are working to include are a new marketing campaign that was launched over the summer as well as a bystander intervention program currently being administered to varsity athletes.

She said the office of Anti-Violence Initiatives is also working on a survey tool to be used during the Spring semester. The survey will assess student attitudes on sexual assault. The research from the survey will be analyzed and used to revamp some of the peer education programs.

Deitch-Stackhouse said the objective is for students to be able to come forward.

“We are really trying to do whatever we can to make it easier for victims to come forward,” she said. “We want people to know this is something they can talk about.”

“We have made victim support and empowerment as well as campus education about sexual assault a priority at (the College),” Golden agreed. “We want to prevent these crimes, and we want those who are victimized to report them and get the support they need.”

Deitch-Stackhouse said if someone perpetrates once, he or she will probably do it again.

“We want to hold perpetrators responsible for their behavior,” she said.

Other New Jersey colleges do not seem to be having the same problem.

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, for example, has remained consistent with three forcible sex offenses in 2004, one in 2005 and two last year. Rowan University has remained consistent as well, with three reported in 2004, six in 2005 and two last year.

Princeton University’s forcible sex offenses increased from six in 2005 to 17 in 2006, and Rider University’s increased from two in 2005 to six in 2006.

Higher Education Institutions are required by law to report criminal offenses to the U.S. Department of Education by Oct. 1. The Clery Act is named after Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in 1986 at Lehigh University.