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Occidental, USC Admit To Not Reporting Sexual Assaults On Campus

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Photo by jasonbache via the Creative Commons on Flickr
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In past years, both Occidental College and USC have been accused of underreporting and covering up sexual assault on campus. Now, both universities have announced that they did indeed report lower numbers of sexual assault than had actually taken place. The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2010 and 2011, 13 sexual assaults went unreported at USC, bringing the total to 39 for that time period. At Occidental, 24 cases were not reported during that time, bringing the total to 36.

For a university to not report sexual assault is a violation of the Clery Act, a law enacted in 1990 designed to require schools to report crimes that affect the campus population.

A spokesperson for USC told the Times that the reports weren't made because the school was afraid it would trigger an investigation by the LAPD, which would in turn put pressure on students to report sexual assualt, which they may not want to do.

But Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental, told the Times that she suspected the real reason is that reporting sexual assault makes a school look bad to prospective students.

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"The college is making a concerted effort to report lower numbers," she said. "It makes them look better but will put students in more harm."

Reports first came out that Occidental and USC were in violation of the Clery Act earlier this year, when Oxy students who claimed to have been pressured not to report their rapes staged a press conference with the support of Gloria Allred.

The students detailed the ways in which the school's administration had hushed them up, including keeping their rapists on campus, telling them that reporting to the police would be costly, and suggesting that they would lsoe friends if they reported.