Yearly report should be used as guideline
The 2014 Campus Security and Fire Safety Report was released on Oct. 1 includes several new definitions that make interpreting the statistics somewhat more difficult, and breaks down the new numbers for students.
For one, definitions of sexual assault have changed. The report stated, “For years 2013 and later the following Uniform Crime Report (UCR) definition of rape has been adopted.” The report includes new definitions such as Sexual Assault; Rape; Fondling; Hate Crime; Simple Assault; Intimidation; Destruction, Damage or Vandalism of Property; New Reportable Crimes; Stalking; Domestic Violence and Dating Violence.
The 2012 and earlier definitions, that have changed, include Aggravated Assault; Non-Forcible and Forcible Sex Offenses; Forcible Rape; Forcible Sodomy and Sexual Abuse and Aggravated Sexual Assault, according to the report.
Gary Christie, assistant director of Public Safety and Security, said in an email interview that the definitions have changed, “because each state may define crimes differently. The federal government has tried to standardize the definitions so that we are all on the same page and reporting the same crimes uniformly.”
Two categories of the report are Disciplinary Referrals verses Arrests, for which referrals have a much higher count of offenses.
In 2013, according to The Jeanne Clery Act: Students Right to Know, there were 215 Liquor Law Violations, 53 Drug Law Violations and one Weapons Law Violation for referrals. The report states the arrests made were only four for Liquor Law Violations, three for Drug Law Violations and none for Weapons Law Violations.
“For Clery Act purposes we have to report whether a student was arrested for an offense (a summons counts as an arrest) or was referred for disciplinary action,” Christie said. “Practically speaking, the University deals with alcohol and other offenses that occur on University property without involving the police unless there are extenuating circumstances. Police are notified of all incidents involving drugs, with the exception of small amounts of marijuana, and their response usually results in an arrest.”
He added a police officer on campus has to, by law, make an arrest for any drug or liquor violation. Christie went further to explain why students should be wary when reading this particular report.
“The Department of Education provides very strict and detailed guidelines on reporting crime. We are required to report about specific crimes in four locations,” he said.
The four locations include first, On-Campus, everything within the fences, Turrell Manor, Health Services and 525 and 519 South Orange Ave., according to Christie. Second, he said, On-Campus Residence Halls are included, but this gets counted twice on the report, once in the On-Campus category and one in the Residence Hall category (which was noted when calculating the above offenses). Third is the Public Property category which includes “on streets directly adjacent to campus up to and including the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from campus,” Christie said. The last category is Non-Campus Property, which includes Ora Manor, the Ring Building, St. Andrews Seminary, Ivy Hill Park, the Prudential Center, South Mountain Arena (when students are there) and study abroad locations, according to Christie.
“The misleading part of the report is that by law we do not report things that happen outside of these specific areas,” he said. “So, a robbery that occurs one block from campus is not included in the statistics because it didn’t occur on Clery geography. The reality is that most of those types of crimes against our community members do not occur on Clery geography, so by law they are not included in the report.”
Another thing to note is, not all fire alarms that take place on-campus are included in the report, only actual fires, Christie said. He said students should view the Clery report as a resource for policies and procedures, including a guide on how to deal with things such as sexual assault, domestic violence, fire safety, transportation alternatives, student conduct, on-campus and community resources, laws, how the University communicates with Seton Hall in emergency situations and how Public Safety provides information via Pirate Alerts and other systems.
“At Seton Hall, we recognize the importance of providing our community members with accurate information about safety issues that goes beyond the Clery Act,” Christie said. “At times, we go above and beyond the law, such as when we issue Pirate Alerts about crimes that do not occur on campus property because we recognize our responsibility to keep our students, staff, faculty and guests informed about things that can affect them.”
He encourages the Seton Hall community to contact Public Safety, (973) 761-9328 or 9300, at any time with concerns.
Lindsay Rittenhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.