Reports of rape at Va. Tech double from2015
BLACKSBURG— Updated campus crime incident report data show a spike in instances of reported sexually violent crime at Virginia Tech.
In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act, public universities nationwide are mandated to share information on yearly crime data with their campus communities.
At Tech, the total number of reported rapes on or around the Blacksburg campus doubled from six in 2015 to 12 last year.
“I don’t think it’s possible to find a simple cause for that number,” said Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman. “That number is a data point. It is a number showing the year in which a complaint was received. It is possible and understandable that a victim might not report an incident until months or years after an incident has occurred.”
The findings come on the heels of a string of years — 2013- 15— in which reported incidents involving sexual misconduct or assault were higher at Tech than the national average, according to data compiled using a U. S. Department of Education Database.
Four reported sex assaults on campus within a week in March prompted President Tim Sands’ most recent public remarks regarding the school’s handling of rape on and around campus.
“Although increased reporting does not necessarily indicate an increase in crime, these reports serve to remind us that we are not immune from criminal activity,” that statement read.
The school’s administration has placed changing the culture surrounding campus rape near the top of its priority list.
“One incident is too many,” Owczarski said. “Our overall approach is a victim- centric one that asks how can we prevent it to begin with, and if it should occur, do we have an environment where victims feel comfortable to come forward?”
At Radford University, reported forcible sex offenses were down to eight last year from 10 in 2015.
Yet some numbers of sexually aggressive behavior at the school of about 10,000 students have increased.
Instances of stalking, for example, rose from one to eight to 29 over the past three years. RU law enforcement and school officials attribute this increase to an uptick in reporting and tweaks to federal guidelines regarding what constitutes stalking for Clery purposes.
When a student reports a potential stalking incident to the university, regardless of action taken, the school is required to count the report as an instance of emotional distress and thus report it to Clery, according to U. S. Department of Education guidelines.
At each school, liquor law violations increased slightly from the year prior — 591 at Tech from 542 in 2015 and 235 at Radford from 213 in 2015.
“Our main focus is violations of the law,” said RU police Chief Dave Underwood. “With Clery, it gives us another tool that we use to help us. If we see something like an increase in sex assaults, we know we need to start working on doing different types of programs. We’re not trying to arrest everybody that we come up with.”