Six reported rapes occurred on campus in 2015, according to Seton Hall’s Annual Security Report, which is in compliance with the Campus Security Act and was released Oct. 1.
The Campus Security Act mandates universities to report all crime that has happened on university property, including crimes such as burglary, rape, fondling and stalking. It also requires all universities receiving federal student aid funds to publish an annual report on crime statistics for three years and campus safety policy statements.
The federal mandate to report this data began in 2013. Since then, the number of rapes on campus property has increased from zero to six.
No rapes were reported in 2013, three were reported in 2014 and the number of reported on-campus rapes rose to six in 2015.
Reported cases of on-campus fondling decreased in the 2015 report. Zero cases of fondling were reported in 2013 and four were reported in 2014, but last year the number decreased to three.
The number of on-campus aggravated assaults also decreased from one incident in 2014 to zero incidents in 2015.
Also, despite the increase in rapes that occurred was, university officials feel that this is an underestimate of what actually happened on campus.
Dean Karen Van Norman is the school’s Title IX Deputy Compliance Coordinator and played an integral role in compiling the data in the report.
“Incidents of rape in society, including on college campuses, are severely underreported,” Van Norman said in an email interview. “Therefore, I am confident that the six rapes reported on campus last year are reflective of this underreporting.”
Robin Nagel, a senior English major and programming assistant for the new KNOW MORE sexual assault and other drug education groups on campus, said she believes underreporting is affecting the numbers in the report.
“I worry that students fear coming forward, that they fear disclosing, for one reason or another—and that too is hard to swallow,” Nagel said via email.
All rapes that were reported happened on campus housing facilities. Nagel said this is what concerned her the most.
“The fact that there were six on-campus, in student housing rapes in 2015 is deeply troubling, to say the least,” Nagel said. “I am thankful that the number is in single digits, but at the same time having lived on campus, I’m still bothered by the fact that these sexual assaults took place in a place that I live, or in a place that friends of mine live, or in a place where I am responsible for the residents who live there.”
Alanna D’Alessandro, a senior finance and philosophy major, said that six on-campus rapes is an alarmingly high number.
“Six rapes on campus is six too many, and this surely does not include the rapes that happen just off campus at houses and apartments,” D’Alessandro said. “If the majority of parties/drinking happens off campus, there is a good chance that the majority of sexual activity- consensual or not- happens off campus as well.”
Senior secondary education and history major Jake Etienne was shocked that six rapes occurred on campus in one year, but also expected the true number of rapes to be much higher.
Kaley Hilts, a senior marketing major, said that she reads the reports because she wants to be informed. “I do not believe that ignorance is bliss and I like to be aware of what is going on.”
However, she also does not believe six reported rapes accurately depicts what goes on at SHU. She believes the problem is deeper and people should be made aware of incidents off campus as well.
“Ever since I was a freshman I really didn’t feel safe in specific atmospheres like frat parties or house parties and I always encourage other girls to go out in groups and always look out for one another,” Hilts said.
The report detailed federal crime definitions, educational and awareness programming, university definition of consent, and many more pieces of useful information. This report can be found on Seton Hall’s website for the Department of Public Safety. Click on “Campus Security & Safety Report” and then choose “South Orange Campus.”
The numbers from the annual report have pressed the Student Life office to move forward with programming to spread awareness on sexual assault and how to report.
“I am hopeful that the increased education and outreach we have done, especially under the KNOW MORE umbrella, has raised awareness and encouraged more reporting,” Van Norman said. “I am a firm believer that there is always need for, and opportunity for, more outreach and programming, which is what is planned for this year.”
Siobhan McGirl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.