Campus safety by the numbers: annual security report details crimes on campus

Campus News, News

Crime statistics remained stagnant on Capital University’s Bexley campus in 2016, according to its annual security report released on Sept. 30, 2017.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requires annual security reports to be completed by universities by Oct. 1 each year. These reports show crime statistics on campus, on any property off campus that is maintained by the university, and on public property directly adjacent to the university.

Sex offenses are among the most consistent statistics in Capital’s security report.

The Clery Act defines a sex offense as, “Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”

Capital recorded one rape in 2016 according to the new report. That’s a significant decrease compared to the five rapes reported in 2015. However, reports of fondling on campus saw a slight increase, with two instances being logged compared to one logged in 2014.

Fondling is defined by the Clery Act as, “The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.”

Several Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses were logged as well, according to the annual security report. Four instances of dating violence were recorded in the new report, along with two reports of stalking.

VAWA is a set of amendments to the Clery Act that expands the rights afforded to campus survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Capital Police Chief Frank Fernandez said that alcohol is a main factor when it comes to sexual assault and sex offenses on campus.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that at least one-half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both.

From 2014 to 2016, there have been 179 liquor law violation referrals in the annual security report, and Fernandez recognizes alcohol consumption as an issue.

“There’s a lot of intoxication on campus,” Fernandez said. “Fondling, rape, and other sex offenses often involve alcohol.”

Fernandez noted that intoxication, guilt, and close friends often discourage victims from reporting sexual assault.

“Whether there was underage drinking or drug use, our main focus is the victim,” Fernandez said. “We want to provide all the resources to you as a victim.”

Capital’s website provides tips to help students stay safe on campus and prevent assault, theft, and burglary.

In its ‘Keeping Yourself Safe’ webpage, Capital discourages students from traveling alone at night. If students must travel from their car to their dorm at night, or vice versa, they are encouraged to contact Public Safety for a police escort. Public Safety officers are on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By the Numbers

The following data compares Capital University to John Carroll University (JCU), Otterbein University, Cedarville University, Baldwin Wallace University (BWU) and Ohio Northern University (ONU), all of which have similar enrollment rates.

Compared to these institutions, Capital has reported a high volume of forcible sexual offenses from 2014 to 2016. The U.S. Department of Education classifies rape and fondling as forcible sexual offenses.

From 2014-2016, Capital tied BWU for the most logged on-campus rapes at nine. Cedarville recorded zero, while Otterbein and ONU recorded two during the same time period.

Within the same time frame, Capital, JCU, Otterbein, and ONU all recorded 5 reports of on-campus fondling. Cedarville again logged the lowest number, with one report of on-campus fondling from 2014 to 2016.

When comparing total forcible sex offenses from 2014-2016, Capital logged the most, with 14 total offenses. The next highest were BWU and JCU with 12.

Annual crime reports from all mentioned universities show that sexual offenses remain an issue for administrations, especially Capital. While total forcible sex offenses dropped from 2015 to 2016 for Capital, numbers still remain on the high end when compared to other institutions.

Burglary continues to be an issue on campus at Capital as well. Capital’s security policy defines burglary as, “The unlawful entry of a structure with intent to commit a felony or theft. For reporting purposes, this definition includes unlawful entry with intent to commit a larceny or felony; breaking and entering with intent to commit a larceny; housebreaking; safecracking; and all attempts to commit any of the aforementioned.”

In 2016 alone, 21 on-campus burglaries were reported at Capital. From 2014 to 2016, 56 total on-campus burglaries were recorded. The next highest amount from that time frame is Cedarville with 31.

While the overall number of on-campus burglaries dropped from 22 to 21 between 2015 and 2016, the number of burglaries in on-campus residential facilities increased from eight to 14.

Fernandez said that most cases of theft and burglary were “crimes of opportunity,” involving students forgetting to lock their doors or leaving valuable out in the open.

However, Fernandez also noted that while campus buildings are secure, students often forget that people bring guests and friends on campus who are not members of the community.

“When you let someone into buildings and residence halls who aren’t supposed to be there, they may walk around until they find an open room and take what they want,” Fernandez said.

Flaws in The Report

While Capital’s annual security report does comply with federal law, it does not provide a complete picture of crime data in the areas surrounding campus. Outside of reporting crime statistics within campus boundaries, universities must report on crimes that occur, “on public property immediately adjacent to the campus,” according to the Clery Act.

The only public property adjacent to Capital’s campus is Bexley City Hall and the street. If a crime occurred anywhere outside of those two places, it would not be logged into the annual security report.

Capital’s latest security report noted zero burglaries on public property directly adjacent to campus, although the city of Bexley recorded over 10 separate burglary offenses in 2016. One reported burglary occurred on Vernon Road, which is less than a mile from Capital’s campus.

Due to the requirements of the Clery Act, this offense is not recorded in Capital’s security log.

Bexley is not the only nearby city frequented by Capital students. Whitehall is also a popular location with various shopping centers and eateries. In 2016, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program reported 153 violent crimes, a steep increase from Bexley’s 26. Among these 153 violent crimes are two instances of murder or non-negligent manslaughter and 25 instances of rape.

Experts have called into question the flaws of the Clery Act for the past few years. A 2015 article from azcentral reported how crossing a street can make crimes appear invisible on campuses. The Clery Act’s definition of campus boundaries is often interpreted in different ways, allowing institutions to avoid reporting all crime statistics in their annual security report.

Students concerned with crime on or around campus have access to various resources provided by Capital. One is the ‘Keeping Yourself Safe’ online guide to campus safety found on Capital’s website. The campus safety bulletin, which is an online posting of crime and crime trends on or near campus that pose a potential risk to safety and security, is also available on Capital’s website and is updated frequently. Finally, students are encouraged to enroll in Capital’s emergency text messaging system, CapAlert, which students can register for through WebAdvisor.

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