Wash. U. No. 7 for crime rates among mid-sized schools, reports high forcible sex offenses
Washington University was ranked 7th highest in reported crime rates for mid-sized institutions out of 2,450 schools. Most notable amongst the reported statistics was the high rate of forcible sex offenses at Wash. U.
The data used in the report were compiled by news site Law Street Media from Clery Act data between 2011-2013 for all four-year institutions with enrollments between 10,000 and 20,000 students in 2013. The Clery Act requires universities to disclose reported campus crimes, although it does not require that the report have been investigated or substantiated to be included in the data.
The majority of the University’s reported crimes (about 80 percent) are forcible sexual assault cases. In fact, only four other schools (University of New Hampshire’s main campus, Yale University, Stanford University, Miami University—Oxford and Emory University) of the 2,450 from which data were collected reported more forcible sex crimes than Wash. U.
Kim Webb, director of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, said that the study did not necessarily provide a complete picture of sexual assault on Washington University relative to other campuses.
“The Law Street Media assessment considers only the size of the institution,” Webb said. “For example, it does not consider whether or not an institution is residential, where it is located or an individual institution’s approach to reporting crime statistics—at Washington University we are very transparent and complete in our reporting, and cannot speak to others’ approaches.”
Don Strom, chief of police at Washington University, suggested that such a high number of reported incidents may be in fact be representative of a culture where sexual assault victims are able to report their assault.
“One sexual assault is one too many,” Strom said. “But the fact that people feel comfortable coming forward and talking to either the law enforcement agency on campus or to the other mandated reporters on campus…is a positive sign.”
Overall, both Webb and Strom feel confident in the support systems in place.
“We hope our students continue to report so that we can learn more about where this happens in our community, to whom and when and then take necessary steps to support the victims and address this issue,” Webb said.
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