Annual security and fire safety report sees similar numbers

by Claudia Bernstein | 10/9/18 2:45am

On Monday, Oct. 1, the College released the 2018 Clery Act Security and Fire Safety Report, reporting campus crime statistics from 2015 to 2017. College crime statistics reported for 2017 are comparable to past years’ reports, said to Title IX coordinator and Clery compliance officer Kristi Clemens.

“There were no surprises this year,” interim director of the Department of Safety and Security Keysi Montás said. “Looking at the numbers and comparing them to past years, I don’t see any great trends or great differences.”

In 2017, there were 24 reported rape cases, as compared to 25 in 2016 and 20 in 2015. These numbers have been fairly consistent since 2015. In 2014, there was an increase from prior years with 48 reported rape cases.

According to Clemens, there was an increase in reported crimes of sexual violence in the past three years because of increased implementation of campus educational programs on reporting incidents.

In 2014, the Clery Act was amended to require reporting of Violence Against Women Act crimes that were not previously included in the report, Montás said. These crimes include, in addition to the original crimes reported by the Clery Act, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. VAWA amendment crime reports have been fairly consistent over the past three years.

In 2017, there were six reported incidents involving domestic violence, compared to eight in 2015 and three in 2015. There were also nine stalking incidents, compared to six in 2016 and 10 in 2015. There was one report of statutory rape compared to zero in both 2016 and 2015.

In contrast to the VAWA amendment crimes, fondling reports have increased in recent years, with 14 reports in 2017 as compared to eight in 2016 and four in 2015.

There are a variety of resources available on campus for victims of sexual violence to report crimes, Montás said, including both private and confidential resources. Private resources are obliged to report any form of sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator, while confidential resources may not disclose any details of an incident without the impacted student’s expressed consent. However, when a student reports an incident to a confidential resource, a crime can still anonymously be added to the Clery tally, he added.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act of 1990, or the Clery Act, was “revolutionary” legislature for its time, representing a big development for consumer protection rights and general campus safety, according to Clemens. The Clery Act is named for Jeanne Clery, a 19 year old student at Lehigh University who was raped and murdered in her residence hall in 1986.

“[The Clery Act] is in essence a consumer protection law. When a student chooses a college or university, they have a right to know what the environment of that campus is like,” Clemens said. “So, while it can be a complicated process for those of us that collect the numbers and the data, it’s important that we are as accurate as we can possibly be and make them accessible to everybody because we all have a right to know what happens on this campus.”

According to Clemens, the numbers demonstrate the College’s continued commitment to reporting crimes such as alcohol use, drug use and sexual assault.

“I think maybe sometimes people get caught up on the numbers but, to me, the numbers say that people on this campus care about each other and want to ask for help and want to intervene when they see something that has gone wrong,” she said.

Senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto ’01 noted that while the numbers have been consistent over the years, the number of disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations has decreased slightly in recent years. In 2017, the College had 273 disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations as compared to 293 in 2016 and 313 in 2015.

In 2015, there was an increase in the number of disciplinary referrals for alcohol violations. This occurred because in 2015, the College began to count Good Samaritan calls and educational referrals to Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students or “BASICS,” which do not become disciplinary issues for students, but are included as part of the disciplinary referrals in the Clery Report, Agosto said.

According to Agosto, there has been an increase in Good Samaritan calls in recent years.

“I do think that students are more aware of alcohol on campus and more aware of the harms that are attached,” Agosto said. “I think that that’s true both anecdotally from engagements that we have as well as data and surveys and all of the education that we’re doing with students. I’ve been heartened by the increase in ‘Good Sam’ numbers and I’ve been heartened by students kind of taking educational programs really seriously.”

She added that the implementation of the campus-wide hard alcohol ban in 2015 has resulted in a reduction in incidence of high-risk alcohol incidents, such as dangerous blood alcohol levels and hospitalizations at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

“Certainly the data that we have in other places outside of Clery shows reduction of hard alcohol consumption and we also see reduction in these other measures [such as blood alcohol content and hospitalization rates] that indicate change,” Agosto said.

Agosto also noted that there is a continued concern regarding hate crime behaviors that are not necessarily included under the Clery Act’s strict definition of hate crime, which requires that a specific victim was “intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim.”

Agosto referred to “targeted behaviors” such as the repeated weekly tearing down of the gender-neutral bathroom signs in the Collis Center causing ongoing community concern. While incidents like these are not always included in the Clery act report as hate crimes, they qualify as targeted, biased behaviors, Agosto noted.

According to Montás, this past year was the first that the Good Samaritan policy was reformed to include incidents involving illicit drug use. However, he said that no change in reported incidents involving drugs can be attributed to the change in the Good Samaritan policy.

In 2017, 22 disciplinary referrals were reported for drug law violations, compared to eight in 2016 and 16 in 2015.

According to Agosto, there are several prevention and education programs in development that will be key in lowering Clery numbers and reducing harm on campus. The Student Wellness Center, along with the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative have created a four-year curriculum aimed at helping students understand harm behaviors and acquire the skills to intervene, she added.

“I think our pre-matriculation program for both alcohol and sexual violence has really shifted and the feedback this year has been the most positive ever in terms of students really understanding what it was, what we were teaching as well as taking away real skills and knowledge from it,” Agosto said. “I think the sexual violence prevention project, which is the four year violence prevention curriculum that the student wellness center is working on with campus partners is going to be really pivotal.”