Report highlights increase in sex offenses

Jessie Hellmann

USI released the 2013 Clery Report Sept. 26, showing a decrease in the number of those arrested for liquor law violations and an increase in the number of forcible sex offenses reported.

The report, which all public institutions are required to file with the U.S. Department of Education by Oct. 1, summarizes the crimes that happened on campus the year prior.

Public Safety Director Steve Woodall said the number of forcible sex offenses reported increased, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the actual number of offenses increased.

“There’s been an increase in making people aware, as well as training (and) educating students about how important it is that they report the incidences, as well as closer collaboration with local law enforcement,” he said.

He said all of the offenses have one thing in common.

“Of these incidences that occurred here, none involved stranger-on-victim, it was acquaintances of the victims – they knew the individuals who committed that act,” Woodall said.

According to the report, six forcible sex offenses were reported to the Office of Public Safety in 2012. In 2011, two were reported.

The report also shows that the number of thefts decreased by 16 percent.

“I think people are becoming more protective of their property,” he said. “Students are starting to lock up their apartments and vehicles and making sure they’re locked and not leaving valuables in plain view.”

Those who faced university discipline for liquor law violations decreased by 42 percent, while discipline on drug violations increased 70 percent.

Woodall said this is because more people have switched to using drugs.

“Typically, marijuana is really easy to conceal, so maybe some (students) switched from alcohol to marijuana,” he said. “For some students, it may be their drug of choice.”

Dean of Students Angela Batista said her office and the Office of Public Safety have worked closer over the past year to make sure the Clery Report was more accurately reported.

“We work in collaboration throughout the year in order to collect the data,” she said. “We’ve added a lot of services to track things that we weren’t tracking before.”

Batista said people should always err on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to report something.

“If someone has questions about whether or not they should report it, then they should do it just in case,” she said.