Forty-three people reported being raped at the University of Connecticut last school year – more than double the number of reported sexual assaults the previous year.
Reports of stalking and dating violence tripled.
University officials said they don’t believe more rapes are happening at the public university, but rather it’s a crime that has been “traditionally under-reported.”
“Increased sexual assault reporting tells us that more individuals are feeling comfortable coming forward to share their stories,” said Elizabeth Conklin, UConn’s associate vice president in charge of monitoring compliance with federal reporting regulations.
The university came under fire two years ago from a group of students who alleged their complaints of sexual assault were not handled properly. The university later paid $1.3 million to settle the lawsuit filed by those students and made numerous changes to improve how students are treated when they come forward. An accompanying investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights into the students’ accusations ended in February after students withdrew their complaint.
Shortly after the issue drew the attention of state lawmakers, the university disclosed that it is likely to be fined by the federal government for not properly reporting such complaints from its students in its annual report.
When releasing this years’ crime statistics that the school must report to the federal government, university officials said they have worked to ensure staff and students are aware how to come forward and what must be reported.
“They know where and how to report, and understand that they will receive support following a disclosure of sexual violence,” said Conklin. “This is so important, because it allows the university and the police to respond to these crimes by offering a range of support services to victims and conducting investigations, which helps to protect the entire campus community.”
During the 2012-13 school year, the university disclosed 13 reported rapes. That number increased to 18 the next year and to 43 last school year.
During that same time, the number of disciplinary referrals for drug and liquor violations also spiked. University officials credit that increase to resident assistants being trained to inform police of such incidents.
State Sen. Mae Flexer, a Democrat whose district includes UConn, said the increased reporting is a good thing.
“National experts like the Clery Center have said that we really ought to be judging our institutions of higher education on how high their number of reported sexual assaults is. The higher the number, the more comfortable students are coming forward, and the stronger the policies and programs to help them are likely to be,” said Flexer.
|Liquor violations (arrests)||20||14||56|
|Liquor violations (referrals)||554||483||750|
|Drug Violations (arrests)||206||178||161|
|Drug Violations (referrals)||177||125||269|