Rape, Stalking, Dating Violence Reports Are Up At Some SoCal Colleges

Royce Hall stands at the center of the University of California Los Angeles campus. Andrew Cullen for LAist (Andrew Cullen/Andrew Cullen for LAist)

According to UCLA's yearly security report, reported incidents of rape on campus rose from 31 in 2017 to 54 the following year. UCLA's reported incidents of domestic violence went up from 29 to 33 in the same time period.

At Cal State Fullerton, reports of dating violence incidents were up from two in 2017 to 12 in 2018 and rape incidents rose on that campus from three in 2017 to seven the next year. Both campuses said efforts to educate the campus community about coming forward to report violence are partly behind the increases, not necessarily that the campuses have become more violent.

"We really want them to talk about it, because the worst thing that can possibly be done is not to talk about it," said Cal State Fullerton Police Captain Scot Willey.

"What we try to get out to our community is that we are also a place of resources," Willey said. "So whether they want to file criminal charges against the perpetrator or not, we'll still handle their case, we'll still walk them through the whole process."

Underreporting, Willey said, means the rape data in CSU Fullerton's report is lower than the true number of rapes happening on campus.

The increases documented in these Clery reports — a requirement of the Jeanne Clery Act, which mandates transparency in campus crime policy — could signal a trend as college activists over the past decade have pushed administrators to overhaul the handling of sexual assaults, federal officials have compelled colleges to change policies, and the #MeToo movement has encouraged victims of sexual assault to come forward.

"My interpretation of seeing the spikes in these numbers is that there's finally catching up" to the real number of incidents, said Ian Breckenridge-Jackson, co-author of The New Campus Anti-Rape Movement.

He said that about a decade ago, college student activists began protesting to administrators that victims of sexual violence were being treated unfairly.

"Rape and sexual assault are crimes that are different from other crimes in that the way we treat the victim or survivor is different from something like assault more generally or theft," Breckenridge-Jackson said.

Victims of sexual violence are less prone to come forward, he said, because of fear that their truthfulness would be questioned. Studies, he said, show that false accusations among these victims is low.

DATING VIOLENCE, STALKING INCIDENTS UP

Cal State Northridge, one of the largest campuses in the CSU system, saw increases in dating violence and stalking incidents. The campus reported 19 dating violence incidents in 2017 and 27 in 2018. Reported stalking incidents rose on the campus from 22 to 26 in the same time period.

At UC Riverside, reports of dating violence rose from seven in 2017 to 16 in 2018. The campus logged 10 reported incidents of rape in both 2017 and 2018.

Cal State Los Angeles logged 12 reported stalking incidents in 2018, up from one the year before. The number of reported rapes were up, too. The campus said students have had to take mandatory training on consent and sexual violence for the past two years and that's led to more people coming forward.

"We will continue to educate and train our community and be vigilant in our efforts to ensure public safety," said Cal State LA Director for Public Safety Larry Bohannon by email.

Several campuses saw decreases in some crimes. While reports of rape and domestic violence at UCLA were sharply up, reported incidents of stalking went from eight in 2016 to 24 in 2017 and dropped to 20 in 2018.

"Increased education and awareness of sexual violence and survivor rights, increased methods available to report crimes, and increased reporting" from campus officials and offices that oversee student safety is leading to a more informed university population, a UCLA spokesman said by email.

The reports are part of colleges' Clery Act requirements, named after a student who was murdered in her college dorm. Her parents argued that her death could have been prevented if campus officials had publicly disclosed crime statistics. The Clery Act was signed into law in 1990 to increase college accountability and transparency regarding crime statistics.

The yearly college security reports include campus policies and procedures on security and safety. The reports also include data for burglaries, liquor law violations, fondling, and other crimes.