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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Clery Report shows spike in offenses

Photo by Graphic by Alexis Will
Standing up to Statistics

The information contained within the 2017 Annual Security Report released by the University Police Department on Sept. 29 shows increased tallies of incidents reported under the files of rape offenses, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
Each offense has a different definition for how incidents can be marked. These statistics are then classified by five different categories in three constitutive years as on campus property, on campus student housing facilities (a subset of the on campus category), non-campus property, public property and unfounded crimes. The statistics are not broken down by any socioeconomic indicators, rather each count is a single incident of that report.
“It is very complicated,” UPD Lt. Bobby Richardson said about to the way the statistics are reported and classified.
Essentially, if one person reports incident cases of an offense in one sitting, but the type of incident varies or incidents occurred at different times and places, they are filed as the total number of incidents and not the singular reporter.
“If there is a separation in time and space, it is considered a separate event,” Richardson said.
Although systems such as required Haven training, Step In. Stand Up. and CLEAR workshops have provided the opportunity for increased awareness among students, sexual assault related offenses are still underreported, according to Richardson.
“We know statistics show that sexual assault goes underreported,” Richardson said. “So there’s a lot of programs, not just through the police department but the university uses to bring people’s attention and educate them about what it is and make them more aware.”
Stalking reports have greatly jumped from 21 on campus reports with 10 in residential facilities in 2015 to 76 on campus reports with 19 in residential facilities in 2016. Stalking is expansively defined in its formatting to include actions or conduct towards a specific person to cause suffering or anguish of the victim in any way, therefore allowing
many cases to be filed under this label.
Additionally, domestic violence cases have increased from 8 on campus with 2 in residential
facilities in 2015 to 15 on campus with 12 in residential facilities in 2016. Dating violence increased from 13 on campus with 9 in residence facilities in 2015 to 17 on campus with 6 in residence facilities in 2016.
“It’s hard for us to do anything unless it’s being reported,” Richardson said. “I think a lot of that is due to the Step In. Stand Up. program. The CLEAR office has done a really good job of awareness and education. The best thing that we want people to know is that if they don’t want to call the police, there are other options available.”
Rape offenses have increased from 13 with 11 of those in residential facilities in 2015 to 30 with 25 of those in residential facilities in 2016, and non-campus increase from 2 offenses in 2015 to 3 in 2016. 

Martha Garcia Opersteny, execuutive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center, said she believes that more offenses are being reported rather than an increase of incidents. 

“I believe there’s a lot more awareness, and that is probably the reason for the increase,” Opersteny said. “It’s my opinion and my hope that it’s not that the number of incidents are more frequent, but that people are learning that it’s OK to report, that it’s important for them to report what happened to them, or to others.” 

The victims report will never go under investigation if the perpertrator’s name is not provided. According to Jennifer Smith, the Title IX Coordinator, the victim of the crime can report or seek help without having to identify themselves on public record. 

“It would end up in that annual crime report that you referenced, but it would only show up in the report as a number that somebody made a report that they were sexually assaulted,” Smith said.  

Some resources for victims include reporting the incident to the UPD, the Title IX office and the Sexual Assault Resource Center, student counseling services and staff at the student health services. These are confidential reports and can be filed under the alias “Jane Doe” or “John Doe.” 

“If a student has had something happen to them, that there are options and there are resources for them out there,” Smith said. “They can call me, they can call the dean of students and they can talk to student counseling, or to the folks at the medical center, and you know, we can help them.”

Even though the crime reports only show a tally of reports without details of the reporter, victim or perpetrator, many are presumed to still remain unreported.

 “I think all of those crimes, sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, are all underreported,” Opersteny said. “Even with the increase, and we see that awareness is going up, it’s becoming OK to report, there are still a lot of people that are not reporting. I would guesstimate that it’s probably still maybe 70 percent not reporting.” 

If victims of an offense do not want to file a report, they have the option of going to the student counseling services or to SARC for guidance help after such incidents.

 Opersteny said that if victims are seeking help, SARC resources are available and free of cost.  

“If you are not ready to report to somebody on campus, please come talk to us,” Opersteny said. “We are here and we believe you.”

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