OSU reports sexual assault data to Clery Act

This graph displays a combination of the total forcible sexual offense crimes committed at each university per 5,000 students from 2014 through 2016. Read more about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses here.

Brock Hulse, News Contributor

Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Clery Act, all colleges and universities who participate in federal aid programs are required to collect and disclose all reported crime statistics that occur on and next to all of their campuses. This information includes statistics on sexual assaults as well as statistics of other crimes for OSU and every other college campus in the United States, and is made public on the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security website.

The collecting and reporting of this data has continued to be updated since the beginning of the requirement brought about under the Clery Act, Steve Clark, the OSU Vice President for University Relations and Marketing, said via email.

“The Clery Act has been in existence since 1990 and has been updated to include the monitoring and reporting of additional crimes,” Clark said via email.

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One of these updates is regarding the federal Violence Against Women Act, Michele Spaulding, the Clery Compliance Manager for OSU said via email.

“VAWA was reauthorized to update, clarify and expand the rights afforded to campus survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking,” Spaulding said via email. “This legislation also revised the categories of bias for hate crime reporting adding gender identity and separating ethnicity and national origin into distinctive categories for reporting purposes.”

Within the Clery Act, the U.S. Department of Education issues very specific instructions to post secondary or higher education institutions on how to classify and report statistics regarding the crime types reported and the geography of where the crime occurred, Spaulding said via email.

“The Department designates four geographic categories for which colleges and universities must provide crime statistics,” Spaulding said via email. “On-campus, on-campus student housing, non-campus and public property.”

According to Spaulding, on-campus refers to the physical campus itself, with the on-campus student housing statistics being a subset of the on-campus statistics, meaning that incidents that happen in on-campus student housing are reported in both categories.

The non-campus and public property categories represent areas related to the university that are not on the main campus itself said Spaulding.

“Non-campus properties include locations that the university owns or controls, but that are not contiguous to the main campus such as our forests, farms, recognized student organization properties and locations where our students travel for university-sponsored activities,” Spaulding said via email. “The public property category includes crimes that happen on the public streets surrounding campus… This means if a significant incident, such as a robbery, happened two blocks from campus… it would not be reported in the annual statistics because of the Clery Act’s exacting geographic reporting requirements.”

According to Spaulding, one of the things the collection, classification and reporting of OSU’s crime statistics allows for is the comparison of different university’s safety data.

“It allows parents and students to compare the safety of universities and colleges across the nation by the same standard when they are considering a place to attend school,” Spaulding said via email. “Hopefully, this also increases student awareness of safety.”

However, similar to the crimes close to but not within the geographic reporting requirements of the Clery Act, not all crimes will be reported. According the the Clery Center’s website, the Clery Act statistics do not always represent incidents shared with confidential resources on campus such as a counseling center.

“Many survivors will share their stories with friends and family and may choose to not let others know,” Dr. Judy Neighbours, the Director of the Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center (SARC), said via email. “Many never tell anyone.”

Not all incidents of gender based violence will be captured in the Clery reporting, Title IX reporting or confidential disclosures to SARC due to the reality that many survivors do not come forward and report their assault, with most reports saying only 10 to 15 percent of victims reporting their crimes, Neighbours said via email.

“We need to create an environment that makes it safer for survivors to come forward and share their story,” Neighbours said via email. “Give their voice, without the fear of being blamed or disbelieved.”