Ursinus has seen a decrease in liquor law violations, but an increase in drug violations and sexual misconduct reports over the past year, according to the annual Security and Fire Safety Report released last week. Additionally, there was a decrease in hate crimes, but an increase in burglary. The complete report, which the school is required to publish as a part of the Clery Act, was sent out to all students, faculty, and staff.
Associate dean of students, campus safety director, and Title IX coordinator, Kim Taylor, spoke about the increase in some of the statistics, specifically the increase in sexual assault on campus which went from five reported instances of rape in 2014 to 13 reported instances in 2015.
“I think, sadly, we did not only have five or four instances in past years,” she said. “I think [now] more instances [are being reported].”
Taylor attributes the higher level of reporting to better education about the resources for students who have experienced sexual assault or dating violence.
“I think we’re being much more intentional about education on campus and talking to students,” said Taylor. “I think the Peer Advocates are playing a big role, because them working in tandem with the RAs provides more education and resources for people to talk to so I think that we’re hearing about them more. Although I never want to see a number higher than zero, I would rather people report so we can help them.”
One Peer Advocate, Ursinus junior Sarah Gow, echoed Taylor’s thoughts.
“I would say that though it is sad–it’s also good,” said Gow. “In my opinion, from what I’ve read on the statistics about reporting sexual assaults, we are not seeing an increase in assaults. We’re seeing an increase in victims who feel empowered enough to seek help and report assaults. I think what’s sad is that I think past years we have had a lot of people not report their assaults and that left our numbers lower.”
Gow also spoke about changes they would like to see on campus—specifically, more education and awareness of assault.
“We don’t want to live in a community where we’re happy with rising statistics– education needs to continue until people know not to assault in the first place,” said Gow. “We need to understand respect. We need to understand that rape culture is real and is ingrained in all aspects of society. We need feminism and a more widespread understanding of what that means.”
They encouraged students to seek out resources for reporting and seeking support when dealing with sexual assault on campus, such as the Peer Advocates website.
“That’s what I want to stress here; You have options,” said Gow. “If you don’t want any legal action we have counseling services that are completely confidential and on the other hand if you want to go to the police we have people who can assist you with that. Ursinus seeks to meet a victim’s needs. It’s not perfect, no. I think support for victims can always get better. Also, it is good to know if you didn’t want any support on campus that there is Montgomery County Victim Services who can also provide support.”
According to the report, the school has seen an increase in burglary within the residence halls as well. The instances of burglaries within the residence halls was 8 in 2013 and 18 and 19 in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Taylor says the increase is most likely due to the increase of electronic devices on campus, which can easily be stolen.
“Electronic devices–such as phones, iPods, iPads–are often things people are looking to steal. Unlocked doors often play a big role in that,” said Taylor.
Liquor law violations, however, have decreased on campus. Taylor thinks several factors have played a role in decreasing the number of violations.
“In contrast, there’s been an increase in drug violations and I think that’s part of it. I think drug use has gone up and alcohol use, perhaps, has gone down,” said Taylor. “The Reimert courtyard program has led to fewer incidents of open container violations.”
Dean Taylor also spoke about the decrease in hate crimes on campus and what the school has been doing to keep those statistics low.
“I think that’s an ongoing thing and I think the Diversity Committee has done a lot of work with that,” said Taylor. “I think that hate crimes in terms of reportable statistics have gone down, but as a campus we’re not where we need to be yet and I think we’ll see better things ahead. Especially now that we’ve gotten Dean Williams appointed to a cabinet position. He’s got some really good initiatives planned.”
If students are interested in viewing the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report they can look for it in their emails or they can check the college website at: https://www.ursinus.edu/live/files/1645-2016-annual-report.