Annual Safety Report shows increase in reported hate crimes, sexual assault at U.Va. in 2016

Number of reported sexual assaults still down from 2014

ns-rotunda-CPlemons

The report is published in compliance with the Clery Act, which is a federal statute signed into law in 1990 that requires universities and colleges to release an annual safety report by Oct. 1 of each year.

Cassandra Plemons | Cavalier Daily

The University’s annual Fire and Safety Report was released this week and showed an increase in reported rape, sexual assault, stalking and hate crimes on Grounds in 2016 from the previous year’s annual report. 

The report is published in compliance with the Clery Act, which is a federal statute that requires universities and colleges to release an annual safety report by Oct. 1 of each year. It also includes other requirements such as the timely warning system. 

Gabe Gates, assistant vice president for Clery Act Compliance, said that requests for reportable Clery crime data is sent to more than 400 local law enforcement agencies.

“The University has identified approximately 1,400 Campus Security Authorities (CSAs),” Gates said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “CSAs include individuals such as University officials with significant responsibility for student and campus activities. CSAs are trained in how to identify and report Clery crimes and receive a CSA designation letter with this information following their training.” 

Gates said that twice a year, CSAs are reminded to report any Clery crimes.

The number of rapes and sexual assaults reported increased from 2015 to 2016, with 15 rapes reported by students in 2016 compared to seven reported rapes in 2015. Although 2016 saw an increase from the previous year, the number is still lower than the 44 reported rapes in 2014 — the same year the now-retracted Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” was published.  

Stalking has increased substantially since 2014. In 2016, there were 16 total on-Grounds reports of stalking, up from 11 on-Grounds reports in 2015, and just three in 2014.  

Reported instances of dating violence have also increased. 

Ben Rexrode, University Police Department crime prevention coordinator, said programs such as Green Dot, Hoos Got Your Back and UPD self-defense classes have been effective in addressing gender-based violence. Additionally, the UPD works closely with other groups at the University to promote safety. 

“UPD and the University are very involved and work closely with our local SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) where we collaborate on sexual assault response,” Rexrode said. “UPD has also increased trauma-informed training for our officers that provides a better reporting process for a survivor, but can also aid in criminal investigations.”

Third-year College student Elma Adusei said she believes the Rolling Stone article increased awareness across Grounds, and initiatives such as Green Dot are factors in the reduction in rape. She has also taken a University-sponsored self-defense class. 

“I do feel safe here. I guess it’s because I’ve taken self-defense courses that have been sponsored through my dorm ... And I do stick to the advice especially at night,” Adusei said.

The report also indicated a notable increase in the number of disciplinary actions taken against students found to have committed drug abuse violations after a temporary dip in disciplinary action in 2015, when just two cases occurred. In 2016, drug-related disciplinary action increased to 25. In 2014, the number was 29.

There was an increase in hate crimes last year. Hate crimes based on religion, sexual orientation or race totaled seven in 2016, with three occurring in on-Grounds housing. In 2015, there was just one reported hate crime — a non-Grounds instance of simple assault based on bias — and in 2014, there were zero reported hate crimes. 

“I feel uncomfortable — but not threatened — that people resort to those tactics and even though I’m not being targeted, they’re targeting other members of the community and that’s unacceptable,” Adusei said. 

related stories