Reported campus rapes increase, records show

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The number of reported rapes at UVM more than doubled in the last year, according to a report released Sept. 29 by UVM police services.

The report is required under the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which requires annual public safety reports for all universities receiving federal funding.

In 2014, the report listed 27 reported rapes, compared to 15 in 2013. In 2012, 12 rapes were reported.

The report defines rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or the anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Kelly Riel, the Clery Act coordinator for UVM police services, drafted the report.

Changes in federal law regarding the reporting of rape incidents makes it easier to report, she said.

“We can’t definitively say why the number has increased because the number is determined only by the reports we get,” Riel said. “We had around the same number of direct reports to UVM police services in 2014, but we saw a significant increase in reports coming from campus security authorities.”

Campus security authorities include people who are either UVM police, people responsible for security of specified areas or UVM officials responsible for student and campus activities, according to UVM police services’ website.

Many of the reports are anonymous, and many instances go unreported, Riel said.

“We don’t collect information from every case. If we get an anonymous report, we’re not ever going to push somebody to give us information. It’s important that victims are in control of what happens after the incident,” she said. “They decide if they want to pursue a Title IX report or a criminal investigation.”

UVM police services Lt. Larry Magnant also attributed the amount of information given to police services as being a significant factor for investigations.

“We can only work with the information we get, it’s not because we don’t know or that we don’t care,” Magnant said.

Judy Rickstad, a victim’s advocate at UVM’s Women’s Center, believes the reports are due to an increase in media coverage on sexual assaults and the quality of support UVM provides victims.

Victim advocates are people who provide support and services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence, according to U.S. code § 13925.

“The investigators are really kind, compassionate people,” Rickstad said. “I think UVM takes sexual assault very seriously and I think that message gets out and I think that could be why we saw an increase in numbers.”

In a survey released by the Association of American Universities, less than 28 percent of campus assaults are reported and more than 50 percent of students did not report their assault because they did not believe it was “serious enough” to warrant an investigation.

“I would say it’s a high percentage of students assaulted by someone who is part of the UVM community go through the UVM process [of investigation],” Rickstad said. “This university does a really good job of responding to domestic violence and sexual assaults around campus and so I think that word gets out quickly.”

“We can only work with the information we get, it’s not because we don’t know or that we don’t care,” Magnant said.

Judy Rickstad, the victim’s advocate at UVM’s Women’s Center, believes the reports are due to an increase in media coverage on sexual assaults and the quality of support UVM provides victims.

Victim advocates provide support and services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence, according to federal law.

“The investigators are really kind, compassionate people,” Rickstad said. “I think UVM takes sexual assault very seriously and I think that message gets out and I think that could be why we saw an increase in numbers.”

In a survey released by the Association of American Universities, less than 28 percent of campus assaults are reported and more than 50 percent of students did not report their assault because they did not believe it was “serious enough” to warrant an investigation.

“I would say it’s a high percentage of students assaulted by someone who is part of the UVM community go through the UVM process [of investigation],” Rickstad said.

“This university does a really good job of responding to domestic violence and sexual assaults around campus,” she said. “I think that word gets out quickly.”