Rape, fondling not included in Safest Campus in Texas report; rapes jump in 2018
Renee Burns– Guest Writer
Two months after Tarleton State University was named the safest college in Texas, the Clery Act, released on October 1, showed 14 rapes on campus. This count is higher, by at least double, than it has been in the last six years. In 2017 there were five, 2016 there were six, 2015 had four, 2014 had three and 2013 had seven.
At the time of the rankings, only 2017’s data was available and, based on those statistics and their own methodology, yourlocalsecurity.com ranked Tarleton No. 1, followed by West Texas A&M, Stephen F. Austin State, Texas State, and Texas A&M University-Commerce to round out the top five schools.
The Clery Act is a report released annually of crimes on campus and is required by law of every university in the nation. The Clery Act separates domestic violence, dating violence and stalking from other reported crimes. Due to this, rape and fondling do not appear in the same section.
From this report, yourlocalsecurity.com pulled hate crime and violence against women (VAWA) crime statistics. The specific VAWA used were domestic violence, dating violence and stalking according to Alexandra Williams, a data analyst for yourlocalsecurity.com. Not included were rape and fondling.
Out of 13,011 students, 61% are women, meaning VAWA statistics are a factor in safety to more than 50% of students on campus.
Tatiana Flores, a sophomore English major, felt she was “being lied to about the safety of the school.”
“[It makes me feel] A little bit unsafe, to walk around. At night especially,” Flores said.
Another student Sarah Boronkay a senior English major, felt as though rape and fondling should have been included in the study.
“It’s not a legitimate rating then…that’s what I would consider violence against women,” Boronkay said.
Tarleton’s Assistant Vice President of Marketing & Communication Cecilia Jacobs says the university has implemented new training for situations like sexual assault and rape over the last few years.
“Survivors of sexual assault must trust that their report will be treated seriously and handled appropriately. Tarleton is focused on fostering this confidence. As of 2017, all faculty and staff are required to take Campus Security Awareness Training. Additionally, we’ve worked hard to promote our Campus Survivor Advocate as an important student resource,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs believes the increased number of reports means students are reporting incidents more often.
“We hope any increase in reported sexual violence reflects heightened awareness and a willingness of survivors to contact the proper officials,” she said.
Tarleton’s survivor advocate can be reached at 254-968-9044.