By Jordan Draper, Title IX Coordinator and Michelle Lambing, Assistant Director of Anti-Violence Initiatives
We truly appreciate The Signal highlighting the crime statistics in TCNJ’s Annual Security Report (ASR). It is true that there was an increase in reported incidents of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking last year. We wanted to provide context and establish that the College believes the increase in numbers reflects the educational efforts to ensure students understand the resources and reporting mechanisms on campus.
The College has made sexual assault prevention and education a priority in recent years. Part of this effort includes creating a climate where students feel supported in coming forward. Resources like Anti-Violence Initiatives (AVI) or Counseling and Psychological Services are there to help students navigate the traumatic experience. The Title IX Office helps students learn about the many accommodations that can be put in place so they feel safe to continue their educational experience, as well as learn how to participate in a College process through which the respondent can be held accountable for their actions. With students seeking these resources more frequently, the ASR number will increase.
It’s important to remember that with sexual assault and dating violence, the ASR only reflects what was reported to College officials. It does not necessarily paint an accurate picture of what actually happened in a given year. If a student doesn’t come forward in some manner — to seek counseling, file a report or press charges — the incident will not be reflected in the report’s statistics.
While the ultimate goals of our offices is to eradicate all forms of sexual violence, as these initiatives take root and fulfill their intended purposes, it is our understanding that the numbers in the ASR will increase. We see the jump in numbers as an indicator that more students feel comfortable reporting their experiences to us and trust that the College will respond appropriately.
If you have any questions about resources or reporting, please feel free to contact Michelle from AVI at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jordan with Title IX at email@example.com.