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Campus sexual assault statistics remain the same despite timely warnings

BY BEN MARKS | MAY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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As the spring semester ends, the University of Iowa has only had one Clery Act warning, the lowest number in the past four semesters.

However, despite the decrease in the number of warnings, sexual assaults continue on campus with almost no change in frequency, officials said.

The Clery Act, also known as the Campus Security Act, is a federal act that requires all universities that receive federal funding to disclose information about crime on and near their campuses.

During the fall of 2014. there were nine warnings, with seven of them being sexual misconduct. In the spring of 2014, there were 12 such warnings.

However, while having only one warning this semester might seem like an improvement, officials say the warnings don’t indicate a rising or falling trend in the number of overall crimes or sexual assaults on campus.

“This does not mean this is the only sexual assault reported at the University of Iowa or even to a University of Iowa student, it just means it was the only one that met the criteria to warrant a Clery warning,” said Jenn Carlson, executive director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

Carlson said RVAP continues to see students at around the same rate despite the lack of Clery warnings.

Although the 2015 data haven’t come out yet, in fiscal 2014, RVAP had 724 crisis calls, and in fiscal 2013, it had 601. Out of those, almost half were cases of rape.

Although various department numbers are hard to compare with each other because of overlap and varying definitions and time periods, they can be analyzed for changes over years.

Monique DiCarlo, the UI sexual-misconduct-response coordinator, said over the past year, the number of sexual misconducts reported to her office has not decreased.

In the spring of 2014, there were 118 reports, and in 2015, there were 139. Out of those, around 30 each semester were for sexual assault.

Like Carlson, DiCarlo stressed the lack of warnings doesn’t indicate a drop in the number of sexual assaults on campus. However, DiCarlo said, even the numbers reported to organizations don’t paint a good picture of the extent of crime because of the underreporting that occurs with sexual assault.

“When we look at law enforcement numbers, or RVAP’s numbers, or our numbers, those are really just reflective of reports. It may indicate crime is up or down, but we don’t know that,” she said.

The fear sexual-assault survivors feel is most often seen when reporting to law enforcement.

This can be seen in the data from 2014 — the UI police had only 13 reports of sexual abuse and one attempted. This was a jump from the previous year’s four sexual-abuse reports.

In addition, according to a recent Department of Justice survey, 80 percent of college students will not report a sexual assault compared with 67 percent of nonstudents.

Alton Poole, a UI police crime-prevention officer, said there is little correlation between the number of warnings, the rates of crime, and the numbers reported to the police.

“You can’t conclude from the numbers whether programs are working or not because of the fact sexual assault is the most underreported crime in the United States,” he said. “[But] maybe, now that education has increased, people might feel more confident to actually report these crimes.”


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