A recently released security report for Ohio State shows a rise in the reporting of forcible-sex offenses on campus last year.
Last year’s crime statistics were released last week in the 2015 Annual Campus Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report, a federally required disclosure of certain crimes committed on or near campuses of federally aided U.S. universities.
The report shows forcible-sex offenses at Ohio State rose to 32 last year from 24 in 2013, a rise of 33 percent. Of the 32 on-campus reports in 2014, 20 incidents were rape.
There were 21 forced sex offenses reported on campus in 2012, 28 offenses in 2011 and 12 in 2010.
OSU spokesman Chris Davey said the university attributes the rise in offenses to an increase in the number of victims coming forward and filing police reports, and added that this is not an indication that more rapes are occurring on campus.
He also said that the university is hoping the increase in survivors’ willingness to report instances of rape and other forms of forcible-sex offenses continues.
From 2009 to 2014, 138 instances of forcible-sex offenses were documented in OSU’s annual security reports.
In late September, the Association of American Universities released its national campus climate survey on sexual misconduct and relationship violence, which indicated 24 percent of female undergraduate students at OSU have been victims of nonconsensual sexual contact as a result of physical force or situations in which they were unable to consent.
The campus-wide survey was available to all OSU students and saw an 18.1 percent response rate.
Discrepancies between the Clery report and this year’s AAU survey can be attributed, in part, to the collection of information spanning a college career, as opposed to an annual report. Also, the survey covers incidents occurring at off-campus locations, compared with the Clery report being mostly limited to OSU locations.
Davey also said the difference between filling out an anonymous survey and filing a formal report might add to the difference in results.
“There are elements of the Buckeyes ACT program that are meant to address that (lack of reporting), and it’s something that we’re going to be actively engaged in addressing,” he said. “The discrepancy of these numbers (in the security report) and the survey would be reflective of that.”
The university will continue to encourage survivors of sexual assault and rape to report incidents, Davey said.
“We hope this year’s Clery report, coming on the heels of the AAU survey, will maybe serve to draw attention to that fact and get more people involved in helping to support survivors, so that they will report when they experience sexual assault,” he said.
According to University Police records, eight rapes have been reported so far this year, three of which were reported to have occurred in prior years, between 2000 and 2014.
Of the five incidents reported to have occurred this year, all but one rape occurred at residence halls. The fifth rape was reported at Harding Hospital.
Davey said a large majority of sexual assaults occurring on campus are being committed by acquaintances of victims.
“The stereotype of the stranger jumping out of the bushes is actually one that we want to dispel,” Davey said. “We want our students to be very cautious when they’re placing themselves in situations – on campus, off campus – to observe all of the best practices that we teach them to keep themselves safe in all circumstances.”
Those practices and information are to be outlined under the new Buckeyes ACT initiative, which was announced by University President Michael Drake on Sept. 17 during the “It’s on US” campaign’s one-year anniversary event. The initiative aims to help students supplement existing safe practices through counseling and training to safeguard against assault committed in varying situations, including assaults by acquaintances.
This year’s security report also showed that there were 11 campus reports of dating violence and 19 stalking reports on campus last year.
On-campus aggravated assaults rose to six last year from two in 2013. There were four incidents reported in 2012. Eight campus robberies were reported in 2014, compared to five the previous year.
Campus burglaries dropped to four reports last year from nine in 2013. Burglary reports saw a nearly 60 percent drop from 2012 to 2013.
There were zero reports of arson last year, down from eight in 2013.There have been no homicide reports in the last four years. Previous reports do not include an instance of involuntary manslaughter in March of 2011. In 2010, an OSU custodian shot and killed a co-worker in the Maintenance Building after finding out he was to be fired.
University Police Acting Chief Craig Stone said data in this year’s report did not come as a surprise as he stays up-to-date with daily police crime logs, adding in an email that the safety of the campus community remains the division’s No. 1 priority.
“Our Department of Public Safety stays aware of crime data and crime trends throughout the year in order to reduce crime and the fear of crime,” he said. “We will continue to work closely with local law enforcement to enhance the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”