2010 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report finds overall decrease in campus violent crime

Named after the late Jeanne Clery, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, is a federal statute that mandates all universities and colleges that receive any federal financial aid must publish a report detailing on-campus and near-campus crime statistics.

Clery was a 19-year-old college freshman attending Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., when she was raped and murdered in her residence hall room by a fellow Lehigh student in 1986. Her namesake bill was passed in 1990 as a means to hold universities accountable for safety in and around their campuses.

The University had six reported on-campus cases of forced sexual assault in 2009, according to data released in its 2010 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, which was issued in compliance with the Clery Act.

Overall, violent crime has decreased at the University.

“Well, obviously we have a variety of crimes and we cover a variety of crimes,” Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Carolyn McDermed said. “I do think we’ve done a good job on campus in crime prevention and also education and prevention.”

In addition to the six forced sexual assaults that occurred on the University campus, three were reported in the immediate vicinity. The total University community also reported 33 instances of burglary, 22 motor vehicle thefts, six arsons and two robberies.

By comparison, Oregon State University reported fewer forced sexual assaults in 2009, but performed worse overall between 2007 and 2009. In this time frame, OSU reported 29 total forced sexual assaults, where the University reported 22.

Portland State University and its surrounding community reported eight instances of forced sexual assault in the last three years.  

Maggie Minnich, Education Coordinator for the Assault Prevention Shuttle, said the statistics reported regarding forced sexual assault cases have the potential of being partially misleading or incomplete.

Minnich, who is also a University junior, said the full scope of sexual assaults in the University community is not depicted accurately within the University’s report.

“[The Clery Act Report] is not accurate for what’s going on in the entire University community,” Minnich said. “The Clery only covers information for just around the campus neighborhood, and not the entire campus, and also a large number of sexual assaults are just not reported.”

However, Minnich did praise what she saw as the original mission of the Clery Act.

“The Clery Act was really important and a real landmark for publishing crime statistics. There are certainly benefits to it,” she said.

Wendy Maurer,  youth education program coordinator for Sexual Assualt Support Services of Lane County, a survivors’ center, agrees with Minnich concerning the inaccuracies of the University’s report, but she said she hadn’t seen data for 2009 in the 2010 report.

“I’m certain the [report] isn’t accurate,” Mauer said. “Sexual assaults are always famously under-reported, and I’m positive there were more than six sexual assaults on campus last year.”

In addition to reporting on violent crime, the report also covers reported crimes in areas involving drug and alcohol related incidents.

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